Who are heretics?

In my websurfing I come across quite a few headcovering and Christian simplicity sites. Many of you have found them, too. I am a little worried that some writers and some of their commentators are perpetrating some damaging and erroneous information. Most of these are extremists in view, so do not be deceived.

Heretics are those who sort of hold to Christian theology but somehow miss the boat. Usually, they emphasize one aspect of Christian belief over all others. They lose a sense of perspective, or ignore parts of the Bible that don’t support their point of view.

Even if you belong to a church that does not regularly use the creeds (Nicene, Apostles’ and Athanasian) these embody the basic tenets of the Christian faith. The basic tenets are the Triune God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit); the virgin birth, the redemptive death of Jesus Christ and His physical resurrection, the historicity and accuracy of the scriptures (containing all that is necessary for redemption); that God created the heavens and the earth and all that is in them; that Christ has gone to prepare a place for us and will come again to judge the earth, and that prayer is effective (i.e. that God is active in Creation still,and hears the prayers of His people.) This leaves a lot of room for differences in practice.

I am not making this up, and it is not unique to Anglicanism. It is a definition of orthodox faith that holds up under the scrutiny of the millenia.

So Roman Catholics, in ordinary, accepted practice are not heretics. Baptists are not heretics. Most people claiming to be Christians probably are.

The test of heresy can be made only by a church body, not by individuals. And church bodies are really reluctant to get into the debate except when their ordained people have wandered way too far. (Remember the Inquisitions? We don’t want that again.)

I believe that it will be before the Dread Judgment Seat that we will know how faithful we have been. It won’t be a matter for our fellow Christians to decide.

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5 thoughts on “Who are heretics?

  1. Magdelaina,

    Sadly, this attitude is prevelant throughout the vast majority of headcovering/modesty/plain Christian websites and online forums and gives, in my view, a poor witness, I believe, both of Covering and more upsetting, of Christ Jesus Himself. how many women in effect turn away from Christ and modesty/headcovering because of it, I wonder…

    Blessings,

    Sarah,
    Sydney,
    Australia.

    • Accusing each other of heresy and other theological sins doesn’t get us anywhere. Another misconception I want to correct is that before the Reformation all Christians were “Catholic.” This is a big mistake! There were Eastern (Orthodox) Christians under the Patriarchs and there were Western (Roman) Christians under the Pope. Anglicans (English Christians) always struggled to maintain their independence from Rome. Even what we know now as Anabaptists may have existed independent of Rome before 1500. There were a number of other small Christian groups such as the Coptics, the Old Believers, and even Christians in India known as the Thomists. While we are not united under one jurisdiction, we are all united in Christ!

  2. Be careful. I have found that many of those who are the first to cry heresy are the very ones most guilty of it themselves. Not to accuse you, for your writings have definitely been biblically sound. Matthew 7:3-5 should always be kept in mind. To summarize it says you shouldn’t be judgmental of the small error in perspective of others unless you first examine your own perspective. I agree that as Christianity trends toward apostasy, the type of heresy you describe will become more and more common place as people rely more upon the interpretations of others rather than their own daily (hopefully) Bible reading. We also need to be careful not to get so caught up in our own denomination’s tenants that we loose the larger Christian perspective.

    Perhaps I’m a bit uneducated at times, but exactly what are you referring to as the creeds? I’ve not heard that term defined before.

    • True…some people like to use the pre-emptive strike! Studying theology in a mainstream church setting helped me to identify and repudiate the inadvertant and somewhat egotistical heresies I had embraced. I’m sorry to say that our Orthodox brethren are especially quick to accuse each other of heresies and “non-canonical” positions. (The Orthodox have the Paedalion, or the Rudder, a large and old Book of Discipline that dates back to the early church; it is the “canon” to which they refer.) Yes, the Bible is the best cure for the disease of heresy. But this is the sin to which Jesus specifically refers when He says we are to “judge not.” He didn`t mean, `Don`t be discerning,`or Ànything goes`. He meant that we cannot judge anyone else`s righteousness before God. That was the sin of the Inquisitions, that they judged what is the Lord`s alone to judge.

    • About the Creeds: the Nicene creed is the earliest, formulated at the Church Council of Nicea in 385 AD. The Apostles’ Creed is a later contraction of it, sometimes called the Baptismal Creed. The Athanasian Creed is not really a creed but a form of hymn called an akathist. St. Athanasius was a Church Father. You can find all three creeds in an Episcopal (Anglican) Book of Common Prayer. The traditional churches still use them every service. I guess by traditional I mean the churches directly descended from the Church at Jerusalem, through Constantinople, which still have bishops. Some Reformation churches use them, particularly the Lutheran.

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