Manichaeism: The religion of the prophet Mani, now long extinct. once disputed with christianity and Mithraism for the mastery of the Roman world and spread from Spain to Central Asia. Its distinguishing doctrines were that matter is fundamentally evil in itself. and that the aim of religion is the disengagement of spiritual elements embedded in it. This violent dualism, of which several christian heresies also partook, probably originated from Persian Zoroastrianism (since Mani was himself a Persian under Indian influence).
Platonising tendencies: The distinction between the two great trends in christianity has already been made, of course, by many thinkers; recently, for instance, by my old friend, John Macmurray, in his book The Ambiguity of History (London, 1938), the first chapter in which is entitled "The Ambiguity of christianity." But he makes traditional orthodox christianity identical with the Jewish elements only, which I could wish were true, but fear is not.
Chiliasm: It need, of course. hardly be said that those misguided persons who even to-day are still fishing in the canonical books such as Daniel or Revelations, with the aid of a primitive number-mysticism, for detailed predictions, have nothing in common with modern chiliastic christians who look for the coming of the Kingdom of love, justice, and comradeship, and do all that they can to hasten its coming.
Existing powers: Cf. N. Berdyaev's The Fate of Man in the Modern World, 1935, where he remarks on "the relentless severity of christianity in matters of love and its unusual leniency towards property, which it has sanctioned in its most evil forms."
Essential element: In the published discussions of the symposium in which this article first appeared, Edwyn Bevan, a scholar who holds different views of the nature of the early Church, took me to task as follows:-
"It seems odd that when he so much dislikes what christianity stands for, he should still seemingly be concerned to get for his view some kind of additional sanction from the old christian tradition and bring in a fictitious primitive christianity to provide 'common ground' between christianity and communism."Everything, of course, depends on just what you think the best elements in christianity are. In this and other essays I have tried to do justice to what I think they are. Communism needs no sanction from the past; I only attempt to reveal what I believe to be the revolutionary kernel in traditional christianity, a religion in which, by the accident of my birth I happened, like so many others, to be brought up. I could have done the same if I had happened to have been brought up a Confucian, but hardly if I had been bred in Buddhism. One must reveal this kernel in order to liberate men of good-will from the conventionality which might otherwise keep them in bondage to the pietistic beliefs of their past teachers, so useful to the rul1ng class. One must show them that communism, in a sense, completes and extends christianity, just as christianity, in a sense, completed and extended the civilisation of Mediterranean paganism.
Heresies: Cf. A. D. Nock, Conversion, Oxford, 1933, p. 2.46. There is opportunity for a great book elucidating both the economic background and the social doctrines of all the principal "heretical" sects, and when we come to the period of the Albigensians, who may be regarded either the last of the "heresies" or the first of the mediaeval and post-mediaeval revolutionary movements (Lollards, Hussites, Taborites, Anabaptists, Independents, Levellers, Diggers), we see that there is perhaps a continuous tradition. If so, it represents the primitive christian millenniarism which the official Church failed to maintain.