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The subject-matter of both faith and heresy is, therefore, the deposit of the faith, that is, the sum total of truths revealed in Scripture and Tradition as proposed to our belief by the Church.
Christ, the Apostles, and the Fathers on heresy VII. Church legislation on heresy: ancient, medieval, present-day legislation IX. There are, therefore, two ways of deviating from Christianity : the one by refusing to believe in Christ Himself, which is the way of infidelity, common to Pagans and Jews ; the other by restricting belief to certain points of Christ's doctrine selected and fashioned at pleasure, which is the way of heretics.
On the other hand a born Catholic may allow himself to drift into whirls of anti-Catholic thought from which no doctrinal authority can rescue him, and where his mind becomes incrusted with convictions, or considerations sufficiently powerful to overlay his Catholic conscience. Thomas, in the strict sense, are they who of their own will and intention separate themselves from the unity of the Church.
It is not for man, but for Him who searcheth the mind and heart, to sit in judgment on the guilt which attaches to an heretical conscience. The apostate a fide abandons wholly the faith of Christ either by embracing Judaism, Islamism, Paganism, or simply by falling into naturalism and complete neglect of religion; the heretic always retains faith in Christ. The unity of the Church consists in the connection of its members with each other and of all the members with the head.