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POLEMICS—from rólegos, war—is that branch of Theology which treats scientifically and historically of the contest for Christian truth. It recognizes offensive as well as defensive contests, and prescribes rules for both. In the widest sense it embraces defensive and offensive contests with non-Christian opponents (Apologetics), as well as controversy with errorists who protess and call themselves Christians-Elenchtics, from élépzely, to convince or refute an opponent. It is the counterpart of Irenics, which seeks peace and ensues it—though, when properly conducted, Polemics postulates the same result.
Sometimes Polemics has been extended over the whole ground—so as to embrace Apologetics, Elenchtics, and Irenicsbut it is now generally restricted to Elenchtics, Disputation, or Controversy, among the different sects, factions, or parties, into which Christendom is unhappily divided. It is necessarily both offensive and defensive. Truth must oppose error; and error will oppose truth, which must be defended from its attacks.
Polemics, therefore, treats (1) of Heterodoxy, or departures from Orthodoxy in every age; (2) the Controversies thereby