Heresy: What is it?

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Gina B, Jul 17, 2006.

  1. Gina B

    Gina B
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    How do you define the term "heresy?" Where does your definition come from?
     
  2. John of Japan

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    My definition of "heresy" is a little different than the usual one. Here it is. Heresy is a doctrine which produces a sect, pushed by a believer or non-believer, that can lead believers astray and split the local church.

    I get this definition from the meaning of the Greek word translated "heresy." Here is the Strong's definition:
    "hairesis, properly, a choice, i.e. (specially) a party or (abstractly) disunion:--heresy (which is the Greek word itself), sect."

    This word appears in such places as Acts 5:17 ("sect of the Pharisees"), 15:5 ("sect of the Saducees"), Gal. 5:20 and 2 Pet. 2:1. So in the NT it usually refers to a sect of some kind, meaning we could call a cult a heresy.

    In Rom. 16:17 is a synonym (dichostasia) written to the local church at Rome: "Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them."

    So in my view, any time I push my own favorite doctrine in a local church and cause a split, I am just as much as heretic as the Mormons, even though I am a believer. (I hate church splits, in case you haven't guessed.)

    That's my 2 yen worth. :type:
     
  3. npetreley

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    My definition is closer to the 2b Webster's definition of the word, which is:

    1 a : adherence to a religious opinion contrary to church dogma b : denial of a revealed truth by a baptized member of the Roman Catholic Church c : an opinion or doctrine contrary to church dogma
    2 a : dissent or deviation from a dominant theory, opinion, or practice b : an opinion, doctrine, or practice contrary to the truth or to generally accepted beliefs or standards

    I would rewrite it as: an opinion, doctrine, or practice contrary to the truth

    Generally accepted beliefs or standards can be false, and therefore heresy, so that part of the definition doesn't work for me.

    The problem is that people have so many different opinions about Biblical truth. These opinions can be totally contrary to the truth, contain some truth, or be aligned with Biblical truth. The challenge is to know which is which.


     
  4. 4His_glory

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    We had a discussion on this same topic about a year ago.

    http://www.baptistboard.com/showthread.php?t=15145&highlight=heresy

    Here is what I posted regarding heresy.


    Peter was not called a heretic for his lack of understanding concerning clean and unclean. Heresy is a very strong condemnation, I think it needs to be defined more specificly from the Scriptures.

    You are right, only God is with-out error, but not all error is heresy. Some would call anyone who uses a different version than the KJ a heretic :rolleyes:

    Some will claim that Calvinism is a deviation from Scripture, so according to your defenition that is heresy. That would mean then that a number of godly men through church history are heretics. I don't know anyone who is willing to claim the John Bunyan and C.H. Spurgeon, and William Carey, are heretics.

    Heresy needs to be defined biblically and what I would like to see is a discussion along that vein.

    So with that note I will begin.

    Heresy comes from the Greek word "hairesis" which means a choice, or a choosing. It also denotes a body of men who follow a particualr set of tennets. There is more to the defenition, but first here is a list of passages that use the one above:
    Ac 5:17 15:5 24:5,14 26:5

    In each of those referance "hairesis" is translated sect in the KJV, the ESV uses the word party.

    Later in the NT Paul gives the word a differnt flavor. In Galatians 5:20 Paul lists it as a work of the flesh. In 1Cor. 11:19 he uses it to describe schim in the church. The NKJV gives a better translation here than the KJV when it uses the word "factions". Remember this is thoes who have chosen to follow a certain set of tennets or beliefs.

    In Titus 3:10 Paul uses the word again: "Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition," (NKJV) Those admonitions are mentioned in the previous verse: "But avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and useless." (NKJV)

    Peter uses the word in 2Peter 2:1: "But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction." (NKJV)The teaching of these false prophets is a denial of Christ Himself.

    Notice the adjective "destructive" is used to describe which kind of heresies, since "hairesis" can denote any sect of people ascrbing to certain beliefs, such as Christians as was noted in Acts 24:5.

    This is the meaning that heresy has come to today. A destructive doctrine that denies Christ. I think this would eliminate calling Calvinists heretics since they certainly do not deny Christ. If we followed this instruction from Peter, we would only use it to describe thoes who deny Christ, therefore eliminating our reckless labling of other brothers and sister in teh faith as heretics.
     
  5. npetreley

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    Just my opinion: I don't think a doctrine has to deny Christ to be a heresy. I think all it has to do is deny an essential truth of the Bible.

    For example, I do not consider pre-trib rapture a heresy. I believe it is an error, and a serious one because it denies a plain teaching of the Bible. But it is not an essential truth of the Bible. The message of Christ and the Gospel does not stand or fall on the truth of when the rapture occurs.

    I do consider those who claim evolution is compatible with the Bible to be promoting a heresy because without Adam and Eve, there is no basis for the sin problem that requires a savior.

    In contrast to your opinion about Calvinism, I do consider salvation by man's free will choice to be heresy because it denies the sovereignty of God, and I believe the sovereignty of God is an essential truth of the Bible. The message of Christ does stand or fall on this issue.

    Here's the problem, though. I think there's a difference between promoting a heresy and being unsaved. If you outright deny Christ, then I don't see how you can be saved. If you deny an essential truth of the Bible but still trust in Christ, then even if your theology contradicts an essential truth of the Gospel, it seems to me that you would still be saved. That's why I would not say that all free-willers are unsaved. I think many of them believe in a heresy and espouse it, but when it comes right down to the matter, they trust in Christ as their savior. Unfortunately, I also think that many of them do not trust in Christ but trust in their own decision. I would say those people are not saved.

    Most of the time I couldn't tell you which are which, so this is not an accusation pointed at any free willers. This is only my ACADEMIC opinion of the matter, not a basis for judging whether someone is saved or not. I would not assume ANY free willer is unsaved simply on the basis of the fact that they believe in salvation by free will choice. Having once been a free willer, I see no other option but to give all other free willers the benefit of the doubt.

     
    #5 npetreley, Jul 17, 2006
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 17, 2006
  6. DHK

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    Anything which attacks the deity and person of Jesus Christ is heresy.
    Anything that attacks the Godhead, (i.e the trinity) is heresy.
    Anything that attacks the inspiration of the Word of God is heresy.
    Anything that attacks the sacrificial atonement for sins (the new birth included) is heresy.
    (In short the fundamentals of the faith)

    There are serious errors among Christians: the Charismatic movement, errors in Calvinism, errors in the KJVO movement, errors in the ecumenical movement, errors in people's eschatology, errors in differences in the first 11 chapters of Genesis. But for all those differences, most of the time we can still call each other brothers and sisters in Christ. As long as we are still born again of the Spirit of God (and not by baptism), as long as we are genuinely saved, we are all brothers and sisters in Christ. Many of the doctrines of the Catholic Church are heretical doctrines because they take away from the sufficeincy of the blood of Christ. The doctrines of the LDS take away from the person of Christ and from the sufficeincy of Scripture. Almost every cult I know denies that Christ is Lord; that He is God come in the flesh. These are all heresies. Most also deny the trinity. We are not to fellowship with such people and cannot have fellowship with such people. They are in darkness. They need to be won to Christ.
    DHK
     
  7. rbell

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    [tongue in cheek]

    ...anything I disagree with.

    [/tongue in cheek]
     
  8. NateT

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    rbell beat me to it. I was going to say "heresy is what the other guy says" :)
     
  9. npetreley

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    I would include in this list:

    Anything that attacks the fact that God created all things
    Anything that attacks the sovereignty of God

    There's way too much emphasis on these things in the Bible for these to be considered debatable issues. I consider these things to be part of the fundamentals of the faith.

    For example:

    Revelation 4:11 Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power:

    WHY?

    for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.

    That's a fundamental of faith if I ever saw one.
     
  10. Gina B

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    Can heresy divide man from man without dividing man from God?
     
  11. DHK

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    Romans 16:17 Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.

    Titus 3:10 A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject;

    2 Corinthians 6:14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?

    2 Corinthians 6:17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,

    Does that answer your question?
    DHK
     
  12. EdSutton

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    Yep!! Happens all the time. And should! DHK has touched on this in his post.

    Ed
     
  13. EdSutton

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    Very good! I'll see your two yen, and raise you two bahts.

    As to givng a real good definition of this, I'm not sure I can improve on any other posts in the thread, but usually, akin to what the late US Supreme Court Justice, Potter Stewart, said regarding pornography:
    "I know it when I see it."

    Ed
     
    #13 EdSutton, Jul 17, 2006
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 17, 2006
  14. Ransom

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    Can heresy divide man from man without dividing man from God?

    Historically, the Church has referred to this as "schism" rather than "heresy," though in the day it was no less soundly condemned. (Schism might not have attacked the person of God, but it attacked the integrity of his Church.)

    For example, the Great Schism between the Eastern and Western churches in 1054 was primarily over the extent of the authority of the Bishop of Rome and the filioque clause in the Nicene Creed, along with secondary liturgical practices such as the dating of Easter, not over essential doctrines of the faith.
     
  15. canadyjd

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    I tend to agree with those that have focused on a doctrine that is contrary to the revealed word of God. I would add this. To rise to the level of "heresy" it must be a doctrine that is esstential to Christianity; therefore, it would separate true believers from unbelievers; and men from God.

    To deny the resurrection of Jesus is a heresy that separates both believers from unbelievers, and men from God. To believe Jesus will rapture the church prior to the great tribulation (despite the overwhelming biblical evidence to the contrary:smilewinkgrin: ), is not. It may separate men from men, but not true Christians from God.

    So all you have to do is figure out what is "essential" Christianity.

    peace to you:praise:
     
  16. DHK

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    "Essential Christianity" You mean a "Baptist"?
     
  17. Gina B

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    No. That says how to deal with it, but doesn't define it.
     
  18. Gina B

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    Ok, now I think you've finally posted something I agree with. :tongue3:

    "Essential Christianity"
    I would assume this to be the fundamentals of the faith, such as the virgin birth, atonement, resurrection, etc..
     
  19. John of Japan

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    Hmmmmm. What's the yen/baht exchange rate nowadays? :laugh:
     
  20. John of Japan

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    :thumbs: :thumbs:
     

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