Torn for Us
Irenaeus of Lyon
28 June 2017
Irenaeus (ca. A.D. 120-post 191) was Bishop of Lyons in what is now southeastern France. He struggled to protect his flock from the heresy of Gnosticism, which had been imported to his community by Greek traders doing business there. We don't know much about Irenaeus, as the approximate dates of his birth and death testify, but he left us some literature defending the holy faith of the church. The most famous extant writing of Irenaeus is Against Heresies. The Gnostics had argued that God the Word was merely a semi-divine emanation from God, rather than true God of true God. Irenaeus took great pains to show that Christ the Word was true God. Ironically, religious scholars and cults alike have revived the heresy of Gnosticism in the twentieth century.
Finally, for Irenaeus and all Christians the defense against heresy is the Word of God. For Irenaeus God's Word is the decisive and final witness to the true divinity of Christ. Those who taught heresy were by definition ignorant of the Word of God and its power to enlighten. Irenaeus was faced with a religion that was attempting to worm its way into Christianity as a virus attacks a host cell. The virus is supported by the host but eventually kills it. So it was for Gnosticism and its host Christianity.
Gnosticism introduced into Christian communities a conception of Christ that arose from Greek philosophy rather than from the Word of God. This inferior Christ would not have been able to sustain the faith of the church with its salvation through the God-Man, Christ. Irenaeus knew this virus had to be killed or risk the death of Christianity. It was kill or be killed. He inoculated the church with Scripture. His inoculation of the church with the Word in the main worked for some centuries until well-cultivated doctrinal ignorance once again let Gnosticism work its deadly way among us. Now of course, we have been treated to a newly morphed-Jesus, who is "sexually active" with his consort, Mary Magdalene. In any case, such a Jesus is once again the inferior sub-god, not unlike our own quasi-divine dreams. If we minimize Christ, then we feel better about ourselves.
This is the law way, in which there are comparisons drawn between us and Him. If we can just tear Him down, we will feel built up. The irony is that He who is exalted above all heavens, does not need to be torn down by us, instead He descends to us in the incarnation through which he exposes his back to our tearing. That tearing does not bring Him down from His divinity, in which He is never diminished, but His willing suffering fully pays for the sins of all persons, so that they can be freed from that burden and lifted into His presence. We needn't tear down Him, who was torn for us.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

Irenaeus of Lyon
"God is one and the same, who rolls up the heaven as a book, and renews the face of the earth; who made the things of time for man, so that coming to maturity in them, he may produce the fruit of immortality; and who, through His kindness, also bestows upon him eternal things, 'that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace' (Eph 2:7). He was announced by the law and the prophets, whom Christ confessed as His Father. Now He is the Creator, and He it is who is God over all, as Isaiah says, 'You are my witnesses,' declares the LORD, 'and my servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me. I, I AM the LORD, and besides me there is no savior. I declared and saved and proclaimed' (Is 43:10-12). For neither in an ambiguous, nor arrogant, nor boastful manner, does He say these things; but since it was impossible, without God, to come to a knowledge of God, He teaches men, through His Word, to know God. To those, therefore, who are ignorant of these matters, and on this account imagine that they have discovered another Father, rightly does one say, 'You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God' (Mt 22:29).
"For our Lord and Master, in the answer which He gave to the Sadducees, who say that there is no resurrection, and who therefore dishonor God, and lower the value of the law, both indicated a resurrection, and revealed God, saying to them, 'You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God.' He says, ' And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God: "I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob"?' He added, ' He is not God of the dead, but of the living ' ( Mt 22:29, 31-32). By these arguments He unquestionably made it clear, that He who spoke to Moses out of the bush, and declared Himself to be the God of the fathers, is the God of the living. For who is the God of the living unless the one who is God, and above whom there is no other God?"
"He, then, who was adored by the prophets as the living God, He is the God of the living. His Word is He who also spoke to Moses, who also silenced the Sadducees, who also bestowed the gift of resurrection, thus revealing both truths to those who are blind, that is, the resurrection and God in His true character. For if He be not the God of the dead, but of the living, yet was called the God of the fathers who were sleeping, they undoubtedly live to God, and have not passed out of existence, since they are children of the resurrection. But our Lord is Himself the resurrection, as He Himself declares, 'I am the resurrection and the life' (Jn 11:25). But the fathers are His children. For it is said by the prophet: 'In place of your fathers shall be your sons' (Ps 45:16). Christ Himself, therefore, together with the Father, is the God of the living, who spoke to Moses, and who was also manifested to the fathers." 

Irenaeus of Lyon, Against Heresies, 4.5.1-2
Matthew 27:22-31

Pilate said to them, "Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?" They all said, "Let him be crucified!" And he said, "Why, what evil has he done?" But they shouted all the more, "Let him be crucified!" So when Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, "I am innocent of this man's blood; see to it yourselves." And all the people answered, "His blood be on us and on our children!"
Then he released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered him to be crucified. Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor's headquarters, and they gathered the whole battalion before him. And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, "Hail, King of the Jews!" And they spit on him and took the reed and struck him on the head. And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him and led him away to crucify him.  (ESV)
Heavenly Father, You called Bishop Irenaeus to uphold your truth and bring peace to your church. Renew us in faith and love that we may always be intent on fostering unity and peace; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
For all those who will be traveling for vacations over the July 4th holiday weekend, that they might be kept safe in their travels and enjoy rest and family time
For President Matthew Harrison of the LCMS, that the Lord would grant him strength and confidence in God's gracious care
For the safety of Christians in the Middle East, that the Lord Jesus would send His holy angels to protect them
Art:   Anton von WERNER,   Luther Before the Diet of Worms  (1877 )
Memorial Lutheran Church
©  Scott Murray 2017