Irenaeus lived during one of the most critical times of church history. The twelve apostles appointed by Jesus had all died. At the same time, there were other people who called themselves Christians but taught a very different message, claiming it was passed down secretly by Jesus and His apostles to some “spiritual” people. It was often confusing. To help people understand what the Bible and these other teachers were each saying, Irenaeus conducted a careful research, including first-hand interviews, and wrote a series of five books (known as Against Heresies) that is still very useful today.
Irenaeus is remembered for his work in helping the church to preserve the faith handed on by the apostles and to defend it when it was attacked. In Against Heresies, he taught Christians how to read Scriptures faithfully and with humility, taking both Old and New Testaments as one unified story. He also urged them to use their God-given reason to distinguish what he knew were historical events from imaginary stories. These lessons continue to be as important to us as they were to the early Christians.
✦✦ “Writing church history in a way that appeals to children is not at all easy; but Simonetta Carr has done it time and again with these gorgeous books on various figures from the glorious company of believers who have gone before us. And this new one on Irenaeus is no exception. We know his thought well, because of his literary works, but much of his life is in the shadows. But Simonetta handles this adroitly and the result is an excellent presentation for children of a key figure in the history of God’s people. Well done, Simonetta!” – Dr. Michael A.G. Haykin, Professor of Church History & Biblical Spirituality and Director of The Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky.