Tertullian closes out his work, Prescription against Heretics, reminding his readers that we all will stand at the judgment seat of Christ (2 Cor 5:10). In his mind he imagines all of the excuses that the heretics and those they deceived will offer to Christ for their rejection of Him.
Allowing his imagination to continue, Tertullian, with unmistakable sarcasm, paints a picture of what judgment might look like for the disciples of Christ who endured in their faith should the heretics prevail in their argument and be given entrance into the kingdom. Each biting comment is a jab at one of the false doctrines that were prevalent during his time. The text (in italics) that follows is an excerpt from the concluding chapter of his book.
If, however, any, being mindful of the writings and the denunciations of the Lord and the apostles, shall have stood firm in the integrity of the faith, I suppose they will run great risk of missing pardon, when the Lord answers:
- I plainly forewarned you that there should be teachers of false doctrine in my name, as well as that of the prophets and apostles also; and to my own disciples did I give a charge, that they should preach the same things to you. But as for you, it was not, of course, to be supposed that you would believe me!
- I once gave the gospel and the doctrine of the said rule (of life and faith) to my apostles; but afterwards it was my pleasure to make considerable changes in it!
- I had promised a resurrection, even of the flesh; but, on second thoughts, it struck me that I might not be able to keep my promise!
- I had shown myself to have been born of a virgin; but this seemed to me afterwards to be a discreditable thing.
- I had said that He was my Father, who is the Maker of the sun and the showers; but another and better father has adopted me!
- I had forbidden you to lend an ear to heretics; but in this I erred!
Stay alert, stand firm in the faith, show courage, be strong.
Everything you do should be done in love.
1 Corinthians 16:13-14 (NET)