Irenaeus was one of the first Christians to defend the faith against Gnosticism, but what exactly did he believe and what else did he contribute to Christianity? Here’s your crash course on the life and accomplishments of Irenaeus—and why he still matters today.
Irenaeus (c. 130–202) was a Greek thinker who was born in Asia Minor to a Christian family. His historic connections to early Christianity ran deep, as he was a student of the apostolic father Polycarp (69–155). Christian tradition asserts that Polycarp actually knew the apostle John—so Irenaeus wasn’t too far removed from the time of the apostles. Irenaeus was both a sophisticated theologian and a careful apologist. In fact, he was the first Christian apologist to defend Christianity from specific heresies (false teachings that deny essential Christian doctrines). Irenaeus defended Christianity from the influential heresy known as Gnosticism. He also wrote about the early…
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