This weekend I have been going through Irenaeus’s Against all heresies in order to generate some detailed notes that will be usable for a dissertation chapter as well as a lecture on Tuesday. I am at the beginning of Book IV right now, but I felt it was appropriate to announce that I have been thoroughly convinced not to become a Gnostic — in fact, I was already convinced by the end of Book II.
The strategy of Book I, in which he simply lays out the Gnostic systems, is strikingly similar to that of the South Park episodes on Scientology and Mormonism. Trey Parker and Matt Stone are truly our contemporary answer to Irenaeus.
UPDATE: A great quote, referring to the idea that in the Kingdom, the lion will lay down with the lamb, will eat straw instead of killing, etc.:
I am quite aware that some persons endeavour to refer these words to the case of savage men, both of different nations and various habits, who come to believe, and when they have believed, act in harmony with the righteous. But although this is [true] now with regard to some men coming from various nations to the harmony of the faith, nevertheless in the resurrection of the just [the words shall also apply] to those animals mentioned. For God is non in all things. And it is right that when the creation is restored, all the animals should obey and be in subjection to man, and revert to the food originally given by God (for they had been originally subjected in obedience to Adam), that is, the productions of the earth. But some other occasion, and not the present, is [to be sought] for showing that the lion shall [then] feed on straw. And this indicates the large size and rich quality of the fruits. For if that animal, the lion, feeds upon straw [at that period], of what a quality must the wheat itself be whose straw shall serve as suitable food for lions?