The beginning of both Christianity and the Church was troubled from within and from without. On the outside, there was persecution by the Romans, and the priests of Jehovah instigated the synagogue, and on the inside, there were doctrinal conflicts. Christians of the sect of the Pharisees wanted to force the Gentiles to be circumcised and to walk according to the Law. Paul was openly against it. “For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation” (Gal.6:15). “…the old covenant […] is removed in Christ” (2 Cor.3:14). He taught the Jews who lived among the gentiles to move away from Moses, telling them that they should not be circumcised (Acts 21:21, 28). He called the covenant of the law ministry of death and of condemnation, in 2 Cor.3:6-9. He taught that the law was related to angels (Gal.3:19).
In the beginning, everything was new in the Church, and Christians studied and prayed day and night hoping to unlock hidden truths. Paul said “But we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom, which God predestined before the ages to our glory” (1 Cor.2:7).
In this scenario Marcion showed up, born at the end of the First Century or beginning of the Second, son of the Bishop of Sinope. He grew up to be a merchant and traveled frequently on business to Rome. He there behaved as a fervent Christian, offering great sums of money to the Christian work. He wrote a book named “ANTITHESIS,” where he expounded on theological ideas that clashed with the official opinion. His work was completely destroyed, and whatever we do know is through the writing of Tertulian in his refutations in five volumes (160 through 240). In his doctrine, Marcion distinguishes between the supreme god, hidden, inaccessible, perfect, ineffable, and inconceivable etc., and the one, whom they also called God, though it was not really God, but was the demiurge. This was really a kind of angel or supernatural inferior power (the first one in the descending scale), and calls himself the only God. The unknown God, the God of goodness and salvation, can only be known in Jesus (John 8:19). This other vengeful god, the Jews called Jehovah (Yahveh). Marcion opposed this god for his cruelty—he loved bloody sacrifices and ordained human slaughter (Nah.1:2-15; 14:2; Gen.6:7; Ex. 12:23, 29, etc.). The Father God is Spirit, and Jehovah is soul (Amos 6:8 and John 4:24). Marcion considered the one, the Christ, Son of the true God, manifested in Capernaum in the times of Tiberius, and the other, the Messiah, and son of the creator—who should come, but who had not come. The Messiah or animal Christ, pure man, of the family of David, destined only to the people of Israel, who would take them from where they were dispersed to give them unity and power over all the kingdoms of this world. His kingdom would be heralded by violence (Ps.2:6-9). This earthly Messiah never came, and the prophecies were not fulfilled. Paul explains that the Messiah, the only-begotten son of the Father, was not begotten at the incarnation, but at the resurrection (Rom. 1:3-4). The same Jesus Christ denied that he was the Jewish Messiah by saying that his kingdom was not of this world (John 18:36). Marcion proved that the god of the Old Testament was foolish, since he was not omniscient, an indispensable attribute of the true God. Jehovah descended to Sodom to see whether the pervading corruption was really true (Gen.18:20-21). Jehovah took Israel to the desert and tried them in order to see what was in their hearts, if they would keep his commandments or not (Deut.8:2). King Hezekiah showed the treasures of the house of Jehovah to the messengers of the king of Babylon, and Jehovah abandoned him in order to see what was in his heart (2 Kings 20:12-14; 2 Chr.32:31). If Jehovah knew that Job, under his unmerciful trials, was going to remain faithful, he was cruel and sadistic when he gave him over to the testing of Satan (Job 1:6-21; 2:1-9).
Marcion distinguished between the two testaments. The law and the prophets were characterized by fear, not by rigorous justice, not by love, mercy and lovingkindness; by the exterior and sensual, not by the interior and spiritual; by a provincial nationalism, not by the universal. The god of Israel was one; the God of all was another (Eph.4:6). “The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John; since then the gospel of the kingdom of God is preached” (Luke 16:16). The kingdom of God does not belong to the Old Testament, according to Luke. The New Testament brought us a dispensation that is totally new: new God, new Son, new Spirit, new Church, and new law. Jehovah blinded Israel with the Old Testament, for the Hebrews, the continuance of the Old Testament and of the old regimen, tied to Moses and to the prophets, did not have eyes to believe in Jesus Christ and his Gospel. The clash between the two testaments, between Jehovah and the good God, took place between the children of Jehovah, Scribes and Pharisees, and the Son of God. Goodness and mercy were crucified with Jesus, and the display of the old justice triumphed (John 12:37-41).
Marcion is considered the greater heretic of the beginning of the Church. Christians of the First and Second Centuries became adversaries of Marcion, and were able to burn and destroy everything he wrote. All that we know about him came to us from the refutations of Tertulian. We know as a fact that, whoever fights a doctrine, fights it through their particular perspective, which may not correspond to reality. We have a recent example. The Pentecostal movement grew amazingly from 1950 on. It scared conservative Christians with the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, healings, prophecies and new tongues. The three prevailing denominations of Protestantism in Brazil opposed it violently under the leadership of the pastors, all of them bachelors in Theology. They declared war against the Pentecostals. This that writes this assay to you, was asked to leave the Baptist Church where he was a member, on the condition of denying the speaking with new tongues, healing and the baptism with the Holy Spirit. There were articles against the Pentecostals in Christian magazines. It was like the Inquisition. After 50 years, the conservative Baptist Church is hand in hand with the Pentecostal Baptists. This is proof that their theology was wrong. The same thing will happen again, for Christians established the belief in Jehovah as a condition to salvation. If a person believes in Jesus Christ and does not believe in Jehovah, this person is a heretic and an apostate. The Bible does not say that whoever has the Father has the son, but it says that whoever has the Son, has the Father also. As for Marcion, for example, his followers had a high moral standard, setting themselves apart from the world, for they waited for the return of Jesus in their days. This world is condemned to destruction, according to 1 Thess.5:1-8; 2 Pet.3:7-13. They denied worldly pleasures and lived in fasting and prayer, and they did not accept second marriages. Nevertheless, because they did not accept the wrathful Jehovah, they were excommunicated as heretics. Those that condemn Marcion, nowadays, play Rock music, are addicted to soccer, television and movie theaters, take birth-control pills, and get divorced in order to get married again. Jesus taught that, before we see the speck in the eye of our neighbor, we should notice the log in our own eye (Matt.7:3).
By Pastor Olavo Silveira Pereira