What constitutes heresy?

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Tom Bryant, Jan 27, 2010.

  1. Tom Bryant

    Tom Bryant
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    Can someone be wrong about a belief and not be heretical? I hesitate about using an example because the thread is not about denominational distinctives. But let me use this example, I am a Baptist by birth, by choice and by conviction. I believe that it is closer to what the Bible teaches than any other denomination. Is a person heretical because they are a Presbyterian?

    Obviously, a person who claims to be a Christian but does not believe in the deity of Jesus Christ is a heretic (not to mention, lost). Or an individual who denies the triune nature of God is a heretic. But the word tends to get thrown around a lot. For example in the Gap Theory thread, someone said that a belief in the gap theory was heresy.

    I have my own idea about what constitutes heresy, but was wondering what standards by which you would say that a belief was heresy.
     
  2. Johnv

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    Categorically, yes. Heresy is not defined as simply being wrong about a belief. Heresy would be defined as holding to a believe that is in direct opposition to a core docrine. The problem with defining heresy is that we often do a poor job at defining what a core doctrine is. We usually define it as whatever doctrine is important to us.

    For example some folks believe that ordination of women and baptizing of infants is heretical, because they see those things as essential doctrines. Others see women wearing pants as heresy. I once got accused of heresy for not believing that Jesus' robe was purple.
     
  3. matt wade

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    If you want to know what the core doctrines are, just ask Johnv. He's the final authority on core doctrines.
     
  4. Johnv

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    Of course, what was I thinking? Everyone knows that Matt Wade is the keeper of that key :rolleyes:
     
  5. preachinjesus

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    Most people around here have no clue what heresy is and they are so myopic in their theological understandings that anything that doesn't look like them isn't Christian.

    I showed the Gap Theory thread to a peer of mine, who has his DPhil from Oxford, and he just laughed and reiterated that is exactly what's wrong with so many fundamentalists. They make dogma out of peripherial issues.

    In the history of the Church, heresy has always dealt directly with core, essential beliefs of the Christian faith. To properly understand heresy is to see that it has to do with variation from those core beliefs.

    If one really believes that an issue like the "how old the earth is" constitutes a point of foundational belief, I weep at the myopic vision you have of theology.

    When I see some people just default to charges of "heresy" and the resultant "well you're just not as a good a Christian as me" or "liberal" or "you call God a liar" over such secondary issues I see a person who is afraid to engage in robust dialogue and has a sheltered life that isn't in reality. That makes me sad.
     
  6. kyredneck

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    I've asked this before concerning this topic. Is this too simplistic for nowadays?:

    Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: and every spirit that confesseth not Jesus is not of God.... 1 Jn 4:2,3
     
  7. Tom Bryant

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    Would you say then that heresy can only be applied to what people say about Jesus?

    I am not sure that this is too simplistic for today, but not complete enough. In my view heresy could and should be applied to some other areas.
     
  8. David Michael Harris

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    I think heresy is obvious is some area's such as JW's etc. True Christians seem to over do certain Biblical aspects and disconnect from the Head? They don't cease to be Christian but just remain in some sort of error.

    I have said in the past that fellowships who call the Lord's Day the Sabbath are heretical, and in a sense that is true. But they are still Christians and mean good. The Christian church is very much divided in many ways.

    I have been very much a Baptist Evangelical ( ? ) all my Christian life, but seem to be moving to Congregational Puritan. What on earth does that mean I ask myself and why should I feel the need to even say it?

    I keep thinking about the Words of Jesus, Father may they be one. Why aren't we?
     
  9. Jon-Marc

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    To me heresy is teaching ANYTHING as scripture that is not taught in God's word, or denying what IS in there.
     
  10. kyredneck

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    First off, I don't equate heresy with being bound for hell. For example:

    holding faith and a good conscience; which some having thrust from them made shipwreck concerning the faith: of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I delivered unto Satan, that they might be taught not to blaspheme. 1 Tim 1:19,20

    Hymenaeus and Alexander were heretics; Paul delivered these two over to Satan that they might be taught. Whether God granted them repentance to allow them to recover themselves out of the snare of the devil is not known. Thank God that He is the judge and not men. Men are so hasty and willy nilly with that small obscure detail called eternity. Their finite minds can't even begin to comprehend the concept of infinity, and yet they toss it around like it is nothing, and are quick to pass eternal condemnation onto their fellow man when God does not.

    To answer your question; no, I don't think that heresy can only be applied to what people say about Jesus.

    I agree; and I very much agree with PJ:

     
  11. Johnv

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    However, many who make charges of heresy do so based on THEIR UNDERSTANDING, INTERPRETATION, AND APPLICATION of what is taught in God's word, and not on God's Word itself.
     
  12. David Michael Harris

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    Thing is we all have different interpretation of Scripture. How do we know when we are right on certain difficult areas? Jesus taught as one with authority. We lack this these day's maybe.
     
  13. Johnv

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    Yes, we do. Which is why it's important to maturely discern between what is a core essential (which requires unity) and a non-core non-essential (which requires liberty). We can disagree to the nth degree on non-essentials (and we frequently do), but we cannot make them essentials.
     
  14. David Michael Harris

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    Maybe we should start a post on basic one liners that we believe as Christians, starting with base fundamentals and then progress and then comment when grey / unclear areas arise?

    For example : I am a sinner before a Holy God.
     
  15. Johnv

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    Sounds good in theory, but I guarantee someone will muck it up after a page or two by posting something like "I believe women should not wear pants".
     
  16. OldRegular

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    I will get specific. I consider the following to be heretical:

    1. Denying the divinity of Jesus Christ.[ Jehovah's Witness]

    2. Denying the virgin birth of Jesus Christ.

    3. Denying the incarnation.

    4. Denying the doctrine of the Trinity [one GOD, three persons].

    5. Denying the human nature of Jesus Christ [one person, two natures]

    6. Denying the necessity of the death of Jesus Christ as atonement for our sins.

    7. Denying the efficacy of the atoning death of Jesus Christ.

    8. Denying the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ.

    9. Denying the visible return of Jesus Christ in the Power and Glory of the Godhead.

    10. Denying the bodily resurrection of all the dead.

    11. Teaching that there are multiple god's in the universe. [Mormonism]
     
  17. Skandelon

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    :thumbsup: Very well put. Thanks for listing these. I'm going to use this.
     
  18. Johnv

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    I likewise agree. A very well put list.
     
  19. David Michael Harris

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    Agreed. Need to study #10 though. Even after being a Christian for 25 years or so it's quite amazing how you can just scratch the surface. :)

    That reminds me of the Apostles Creed.
     
  20. Robert Snow

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    Ditto! :thumbsup:
     

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