Friday, February 12, 2016
Do Not Allow Heretics to Use Scripture, and Do Not Continue Discussion With Them
They put forward the Scriptures, and by this insolence of theirs they at once influence some. In the encounter itself, however, they weary the strong, they catch the weak, and dismiss waverers with a doubt. Accordingly, we oppose to them this step above, all others, of not admitting them to any discussion of the Scriptures.
If in these lie their resources, before they can use them, it ought to be clearly seen to whom belongs the possession of the Scriptures, that none may be admitted to the use thereof who has no title at all to the privilege.
I might be thought to have laid down this position to remedy distrust in my case, or from a desire of entering on the contest in some other way, were there not reasons on my side, especially this, that our faith owes deference to the apostle, who forbids us to enter on “questions,” or to lend our ears to new-fangled statements, or to consort with a heretic “after the first and second admonition,” not, (be it observed,) after discussion. Discussion he has inhibited in this way, by designating admonition as the purpose of dealing with a heretic, and the first one too, because he is not a Christian; in order that he might not, after the manner of a Christian, seem to require correction again and again, and “before two or three witnesses,” seeing that he ought to be corrected, for the very reason that he is not to be disputed with; and in the next place, because a controversy over the Scriptures can, clearly, produce no other effect than help to upset either the stomach or the brain.
Tertullian, “On Prescription Against Heretics,” Chapters XV, XVI