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The Delirious Melons of Valentinus

Thursday, November 5th, 2009

Irenaeus of Lyons (2nd century AD - c. 202) has taught us many things about how to do theology.  He also provides a great example of how we should do our apologetics (well, at least sometimes…maybe!).  In Against Heresies, when demolishing Valentinus’ Gnostic speculations, he gives this great technique: just laugh at them, and then call them a melon!  I’ll merrily quote in full for your amusement…

Iu, iu, and pheu, pheu! Truly we may utter these exclamations from tragedy at such bold invention of ridiculous nomenclature, and at the audacity that made up these names without blushing. For when he says, "There is a certain Proarche before all things, above all thought, which I call Monotes," … it is obvious that he admits that he is talking about his own inventions…and unless he had been on hand the Truth would have had no name. There is no reason why someone else shouldn't assign names like these on the same basis: There is a royal Proarche above all thought, a Power above all substance, indefinitely extended. Since this is the Power which I call the Pumpkin, there is with it the Power which I call Utter-Emptiness. This Pumpkin and Utter-Emptiness, being one, emitted, yet did not emit, the fruit, visible, edible, and delicious, which is known to language as the Cucumber. With this Cucumber there is a Power of like quality with it, which I term the Melon. These Powers, the Pumpkin, Utter-Emptiness, the Cucumber, and the Melon, sent forth the remaining crowd of the delirious Melons of Valentinus.

An actual photo of two Gnostics speculating

So let’s follow Irenaeus’ advice: don’t be a melon by trying to find truth through speculations, but instead seek the one true God who has revealed Himself to us in His Son!