Monday, October 8, 2007

"A Slap of Heresy"

What is Heresy?

This week at work I had a gentleman come and sit with me from an outside company. He in some way assisted our company in making all of our systems gel together or make them more compatible with one another. As we talked in between my work flow he noticed a book on my desk in which I am reading called "Black and Reformed" by A. Carter. He said, "I see you are spiritual" He also said, "Guess what I have a business partner who is friends with Creflo Dollar!!" He assumed I would jump and clap my hands and maybe do a praise dance. If you know me; that was a slap in the face, he might as well have slapped and spit on me at the same time. I gracefully said, "He is not one of us and preaches a false prosperity gospel" You know how people are nowadays-always running from controversy-so he politely changed the subject. Has this ever happened to you before, is it not the most aggravating thing ever!!!!

Heresy defined: 1) Any belief or theory that is strongly at variance with established beliefs, customs, etc. 2) Any opinions or doctrines at variance with the official or orthodox position.

Also Defined as: A doctrine contradictory to a point of faith clearly defined by the church is heresy pure and simple, heresy in the first degree. But if the doctrine in question has not been expressly and clearly defined and is not an essentiality to the core of Christianity we cannot define this as heresy. Examples would be eschatology, frequency of church ordinances,(Lord's supper) view of remarriage after divorce, or clothing type. These clearly would not define if we are saved or not when salvation is based on faith in Christ alone. Some of these issues may cause division in the body but even in the division one would not call the other heretical. A modern day example would be what some of the Word Of Faith teachers say, "all who are saved are healed by claiming there healing through the promises of God." This would be heretical because God has not said all who believe in Him will not suffer persecution and you are now defining another Jesus.

Biblically speaking, heresy is a lie. No matter how attractively it may be wrapped or how appealing it may be to our vanity, it is a deviation from the truth of God that promotes or actually produces division the church. In heresy you choose to deviate from the truth of God's word. No-Heresy is not dividing on eschatological positions whether New Covenant(right), Dispensationalism(wrong), or Covenant(wrong LOL). These are essential but not essential to salvation. This is a great mystery to me-We have John Macarthur Jr., R. C. Sproul, and Tom Wells who all disagree on there view of Israel and eschatology and are all Christian. These leads me to believe that we as humans are seriously flawed and have biases in each and every one of us.

This word is found in the New Testament about 9 times. The Greek word for this is hairesis. After doing some research on this word I came to the fact that this word did not have a negative connotation until it was used in the Bible primarily by Apostle Paul in the book of Acts-in which he used it about 6 times. The Word in acts primarily was translated as a sect or a group of people who stayed with a particular crowd of people with one belief. (Acts 5:17, Acts 15:5, Acts 24:5, Acts 24:14, Acts 26:5, Acts 28:22) It was mostly used to refer to a party or a philosophy with which a person had chosen to identify or ally himself. Root word literally dealt with choice or choosing.

Now why would Apostle Paul call this heresy with a new twist to it? These sects were causing division in the body or Christ. In Acts 24:14 when Apostle Paul used the term 'hairesis' in a Christian context, its meaning was pejorative. Pejorative is a disparaging or belittling word or expression or can be harsh sarcasm. Paul was saying his sect was not the typical sect who followed the philosophy of men, rather he followed the Gospel. Paul says; "so worship I the God of my fathers(Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob), believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets"

Through the book of Acts is primarily speaking of other schools of thought or false religion. In Galatians Paul mentions the word again. Same word here but here he lumps heresies into a fruit of the flesh. Now based on Paul's definition of lumping in the sects which cause division in the body and it is now so wicked Paul says it is a work of the flesh. In the early centuries of the church such heresies included Arianism, Donatism, Stoicism, Nestorianism, Manichaeism, Monophysitism, and Pelagianism, among others. Their adherents were often punished by excommunication.

Gal 5:19
Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are [these]; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,

Gal 5:20
Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,

Gal 5:21
Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told [you] in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

2 Peter 2:1
But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.

Peter also uses the same Greek word here that Paul uses other places. Obviously by this passage this heresy was a really big deal and could be said to be a splinter in the body of Christ. These false teachers Peter says are the messengers of these damnable heresies. We defined earlier who they were above. Who are they in our modern world? In Conclusion heresy from a Christian standpoint is anything that go against the core teachings of the doctrine of Jesus Christ. Example Paul and Barnabas disagreed on taking Mark on a missionary trip. Could Paul call Barnabas a heretic? Of course not because this issue was not in contradiction to the person of Jesus the Christ, God, or the Holy Spirit. This is why we have to make a strong distinction from true Christians and the other sects which teach damnable heresies.