Tuesday, February 21, 2012


I just listened to one of my seminary professors insinuate that confrontation of heresy is one of the most important roles of the Christian community today. I coughed. I cursed. Then I suffered through the rest of the lecture like an obedient and graduation-pursuing student. I hate the feeling of nausea I'm experiencing because of it.

There are things that we can say about God that are wrong. There are things we can say about God that are inappropriate. In fact, I think most people (especially theologians and preachers) spend a significant amount of time and breath doing both. Myself included. However, the heresy-burning mindset that pervades some Evangelical groups just... well... burns me up.

No, they don't really want to burn anyone. I know that. However, having been on the receiving end of "heretical" accusations, I know that it feels like they might as well be lighting you on fire. I know what it's like to lose a position in the church because a small subset of people think you "believe the wrong things." I know what it's like to be amputated from the community of brothers and sisters you have lived with and beside for years and lose (nearly) all those relationships.

We no longer live in the world of the Church Fathers. There is no governing church (unless you are Catholic) who can render rulings on Orthodoxy. In fact, I question whether there ever truly was any real such authority to begin with besides Christ himself. The apostles were not divine men, they were men who had an encounter with the divine. It doesn't take a great deal of reading through Scripture to discover that they weren't flawless.

The view of authority that demands that one source can contain all the right answers is flawed. Jesus exposed it as flawed when he confronted the Jewish authorities of his day. I wonder if he might confront the authorities of the church today.

We all believe things about God. Some of those things are true. Some of them aren't. But a survey of church history can tell you that is not infrequently the "heretics" (cough, the Reformers and the Alexandrians) who have been the catalysts for positive and Godly change in the world.

So, unless the guy you've labeled a heretic is telling you that Jesus is a jelly doughnut or that God is - quite literally - dead, take the time to listen to him before flicking your metaphorical Bic. You may find that - even if you disagree with them - they might have some points you need to consider. You may even find that the icon of orthodoxy you've been clinging to all this time is just another fractured fairy tale.