WHICH TRUTHS ARE CATHOLIC TRUTHS?
WHAT IS A HERESY?
Student I have sought to know some things about catholic truths. But now let us pass on to the heresies opposed to them. First of all, however, I want to know if you have found a definition of heresy given by anyone.
Master Some people do define or describe heresy, saying that a heresy is a false doctrine contrary to orthodox faith. "False doctrine" is put in this definition in place of a genus because every heresy is a false doctrine, but not every false doctrine should be regarded as a heresy. For, as we find in 24, q. 3, c. Inter heresim [col.997], Jerome clearly attests that every heresy is a false doctrine, saying, "A heresy involves a wrong doctrine." A wrong doctrine, however, is a false doctrine; therefore a heresy is a false doctrine. But not every false doctrine is a heresy. For according to Augustine in the Enchiridion [bk.2, ch.63], it is no sin or a very small one to err in many things; but like infidelity a heresy is the heaviest sin. Therefore not every error is a heresy. We conclude from this that not every false doctrine is a heresy, since every error should be considered a false doctrine. According to them, therefore, "false doctrine" is not unsuitably put in the description of heresy in place of a genus; "contrary to orthodox faith" is put as a difference; for through this a heresy is suitably distinguished from other falsities which are not heresies, since other false doctrines are not contrary to orthodox faith, and therefore are not called heresies.
William of Ockham, Dialogus,
part 1, book 2, chapters 1-17
Text and translation by John Scott.
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