If I had a nickel for every time I’ve witnessed an inerrantist accuse someone of Marcionism for denying inerrancy…
This is an absurd claim based on a gross distortion of history, but somehow the claim persists. So it’s time to set the record straight.
To that end, I’ve compiled a list of Marcion’s major teachings—for which he was condemned as a heretic—and I’ve contrasted them with what “we” believe. By “we” I mean myself, along any number of other perfectly orthodox Christians who hold to a different view of scripture than inerrancy.
For the record, my own view aligns with the multi-vocal understanding of scripture advocated by such scholars as Walter Brueggemann and popularized in such books as Derek Flood’s Disarming Scripture and Peter Enns’ The Bible Tells Me So.
Marcion wholly rejected the Old Testament, as well as much of the New Testament, forming his own canon of scripture that only included ten Pauline epistles and his modified version of Luke.
We wholly affirm the inspiration and profitability of the entire received canon of scripture.
Marcion believed that the Old Testament was incompatible with the New Testament.
We believe that the Old Testament must be interpreted in light of the New Testament.
Marcion sought to remove all influence of Judaism from Christianity.
We acknowledge the important influence of Judaism on Christianity, but understand Jesus’ teachings as our final authority.
Marcion denied that Yahweh, the God of Israel, was the Father of Jesus Christ.
We affirm that Yahweh, the God of Israel, is the Father of Jesus Christ.
Marcion was a dualist, asserting that Yahweh was a demiurge—an evil deity contrasted with the good god who fathered Jesus.
We reject dualism, affirming that Yahweh alone has always been the supreme God with no competition.
Marcion believed that this demiurge created the world and humankind.
We believe that the supreme God, the Father of Jesus Christ, is the Creator.
Marcion denied that Jesus was the Messiah foretold in the Jewish scriptures.
We affirm that Jesus is the Messiah foretold in the Jewish scriptures.
Marcion denied that Jesus was born and that he had a real human body.
We affirm that Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary and that he came in the flesh as fully God and fully human.
Marcion denied the resurrection of the body.
We affirm the resurrection of the body.
Marcion denied the second coming of Christ.
We affirm the second coming of Christ.
Marcion denied the coming judgment.
We affirm the coming judgment.
In short, if someone can affirm the Apostles’ Creed (which was probably written in response to Marcionism), then that person is not a Marcionite.
I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting.
- “What Is ‘Marcionism?’ My Response to a Ludicrous Accusation” (Roger E. Olson)
- “Marcionites” (Catholic Encyclopedia)