Winter Non-Credit Course | Heresies, Ancient and Modern: The Truth about Error

Feb 28, 2023
Gavin House
1220 E 58th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
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Fr. Peter Bernardi, SJLumen Christi Institute

Tuesdays, Jan. 10-Feb. 28
6:00pm: Dinner
6:30pm: Presentation


Intended for university students and recent graduates. Others interested in attending please contact

Registrants are free to attend as many sessions as they choose. Sessions do not presuppose previous attendance or prior knowledge of the subject.


What is “heresy?”  At first glance, the term “heresy” might be dismissed as anachronistic, or even as repellent as the term “inquisition” or "auto-da-fe." Surprisingly, the Greek root of the term “heresy” does not mean “error,” but “choice.”  Heresy entails a selective partiality that in one way or another rejects the integral fullness of catholic truth.  Certain heresies are recurrent. For example, Pope Francis has signaled the dangers of neo-gnosticism and neo-Pelagianism, heresies that threatened the integrity of Christian truth in the early Church.   

This course will revisit some prominent heresies in their ancient and modern forms and pose these questions:  Why do people find a given heresy attractive? How does heresy reveal a particularly pressing issue? How does a specific heresy compromise the fullness of truth? 




January 10:  What is heresy?  Biblical Revelation; Ancient & Modern Gnosticism & the Scandal of the Cross

January 17:  A Perfect Church? The Scandal of Sinful Pastors: from 4th century to the Present 

January 24:  Christological Heresies: Safeguarding the Saving Truth of the Incarnation  

January 31:  Pelagianism: The Perennial Attraction of Self-Salvation.

February 7:  Enthusiasm: the Holy Spirit Run Amok, from 2nd century Montanism to Contemporary Spiritualisms

February 14:  Atheism: the Ultimate Heresy?  The Idolatries of Mammon, Nation, Body, and Race  

February 21:  Culture of Relativism:  Catholic Fullness vs. Heretical Partialness

February 28:  The Spiritual Lives of Contemporary Young People: “Therapeutic, Moralistic Deism?"  

Fr. Peter Bernardi, SJ is scholar-in-residence at the Lumen Christi Institute and Associate Professor Emeritus of Theology at Loyola University of Chicago, where he taught from 2010 to 2020. Before coming to Chicago he taught at Loyola University New Orleans from 1996 to 2010. Fr. Bernardi holds an Honors B.A. in Classical Languages from Xavier University (Cincinnati), an MA in Philosophy from the University of Detroit, a Master of Divinity from Regis College of the Toronto School of Theology, an STL from the Weston School of Theology with a thesis concerning soteriology, and a PhD in Systematic Theology from the Catholic University of America.

His areas of interest include modern Christian thought; John Henry Newman, Maurice Blondel, and the Renewal of Catholic Theology; Theology of Vatican II; Christology & Soteriology. He is the author of Maurice Blondel, Social Catholicism and Action Française: The Clash over the Church’s Role in Society During the Modernist Era (CUA Press, 2009).  His most recent scholarly publications are "Blondel, Maurice (1861–1949)" in the Bloomsbury Encyclopedia of Philosophers (2020), "Louis Cardinal Billot, S.J. (1846–1931): Thomist, Anti-Modernist, Integralist" in the Journal of Jesuit Studies 8 (2021): 585-616, and "Maurice Blondel's diagnosis of extrinsicist 'Monophorism': An enduring critique of Christian Integralism," in Pesando-Revista de Filosofia. Vol 13, No 30 (2022) Dossie Maurice Blondel, 100-113.