TWENTY WAYS OF ESTABLISHING FROM EXTERNAL BEHAVIOR A PRESUMPTION THAT A PERSON IS A HERETIC CHAPTER 6 ~ WILLIAM OF OCKHAM
TWENTY WAYS OF ESTABLISHING FROM EXTERNAL BEHAVIOR A PRESUMPTION THAT A PERSON IS A HERETIC
Disciple Let what was said above be enough about the first way; describe now a second way by which someone can be convicted of pertinacity.
Master He who says that some part of the New or Old Testament asserts something false or should not be accepted by catholics should be regarded as pertinacious and a heretic. It was for this reason that the Manichees, who rejected the Old Testament and accepted the New Testament only in part, were condemned as heretics.
Disciple Should some layman be considered a heretic if he has never heard any mention of the book of, say, Joshua and were to say that the book of Joshua does not belong to the Old Testament?
Master There is a difference between one saying that some writing does not belong to the Old or the New Testament and one saying that some part of the New or the Old Testament should not be accepted.
In the first case, if it is a layman or someone unlearned, he should not immediately be considered a heretic but should be carefully examined and also instructed. If he were not to correct himself after appropriate teaching he should be regarded as pertinacious. But if he is learned and knows what books the church regards as integral to the New and Old Testament and yet, notwithstanding this, were to say that the book of Joshua, or some other, does not belong to the Old Testament he should be condemned immediately as a heretic and pertinacious; nor should he be waited on so that once corrected he might then correct himself, but he should be held at once to be incorrigible.
However, in the second case, namely someone who says that some part of the New or Old Testament should not be accepted or that it asserts something false, he should be judged immediately as pertinacious, whether he is learned or unlearned, unless perhaps he is so simple that he does not know what is meant by "New and Old Testament" and, led astray by others, says that the New or Old Testament or some part of it should not be accepted even though he firmly believes that the whole faith of the church should be accepted. For such a person should not be counted among the heretics but should be excused by simplicity and ignorance. It is about such simple people that Augustine speaks, as we read in 24. q. 3. c. Hereticus [col.998], "He who believes men of this kind," that is heretics, "has been deceived by some fancy of truth." It does not seem, therefore, that he should be judged as pertinacious unless he believes that the faith of the church is false or is convicted as pertinacious in another way.