WHAT IS A HERESY?
"NEW" HERESIES AND "NEW" CATHOLIC TRUTHS
Student That seems to me to be a strong objection, but would you not delay explaining how reply is made to it.
Master They say that the words of the saints have to be understood soundly. An understanding of them often has to be taken from a variety of their writings and so they should not always be understood in a superficial sense. And therefore they say that although the above words from Jerome seem prima facie to allege that no falsity should be called a heresy before there has been an actual choice and that every teaching that someone thinks is better, whether it be true or false, can pertain to a heresy, yet Jerome does not understand them in this way. For in writing the above words about the letter to the Galatians, Jerome tries to mark out the difference between schism and heresy by saying [in 24, q. 3, c. Inter heresim (col.997)], "I think that there is this between schism and heresy, that a heresy contains wrong teaching, a schism likewise separates one from the church after an episcopal separation.... but there is no schism unless someone invents some heresy for himself, with the result that he rightly seems to have withdrawn from the church." We are given to understand by these words that according to blessed Jerome heresy is not found without wrong teaching contrary to the teaching of the church. Therefore Jerome's words, when he says, "Heresy [is taken] from the Greek for choice" etc, should be understood not of any teaching at all but of false teaching contrary to the teaching of the church and should not be understood of an actual choice but more of a potential [choice] by which someone can choose a false teaching which is contrary to the teaching of the church [but] which he thinks is better.
William of Ockham, Dialogus,
part 1, book 2, chapters 1-17
Text and translation by John Scott.
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