Itís a beautiful fall Monday. Iím well rested after a great weekend. Itís been a while since Iíve written anything to ďstir the pot.Ē It seems like a good day to do just that. HummmmÖ what could I do?
How about accusing my good Christian brothers and sisters of being HERETICS? That seems like a good way to make friends and influence people.
Letís start with defining what a heretic is (courtesy of dictionary.com):
1. a professed believer who maintains religious opinions contrary to those accepted by his or her church or rejects doctrines prescribed by that church.
2. Roman Catholic Church, a baptized Roman Catholic who willfully and persistently rejects any article of faith.
3. anyone who does not conform to an established attitude, doctrine, or principle.
Reading those three definitions itís actually hard not to be a heretic. In some cases we have beliefs that differ from that of our home church or denomination after considered study and thought. As a personal example, for many years I attended and belonged to a church congregation that followed the Calvinistic belief in predestination. I personally am a confirmed Armenian/Wesleyan in the free will camp. No one is going to burn me at the stake for being a heretic in this case.
Martin Luther was accused of heresy under definition 2 above. Luther is the father of the Protestant revolution. He boldly addressed his differences with the Roman Catholic Church and was formally accused of heresy. It was only because of political intervention that he was not burned at the stake.
Both of these examples of ďheresyĒ, one very minor and one earth-shaking, are based on personal discernment based understanding of the Bible itself. Others have different views, even opposite views, also based on understanding of the Bible. This leads to great debates among Christians, many of which are to the detriment of Christianity. The Holy Spirit leads us in different ways.
There are millions of Roman Catholics who practice birth control methods that are contrary to the teachings of the Church. Under definition 2 above, they are heretics. There are many reasons why they make the decision to act in a manner that is contrary to Church teachings which are far beyond the purpose of this blog. The point is, they do by conscious decision. Iím not going to judge here. Thatís WAY above my pay grade.
A very insidious path to heresy is when we allow things OUTSIDE of Biblical teachings to become the basis our faith and actions. There is no shortage of outside (non-Biblical) influence. Art, literature, commercial-marketing, mass communication, TV, radio (yes, it still exists), music, books and misguided evangelists (false teachers Ė heard of Harold Camping?) are all examples. There are many more. Thousands upon thousands more! Itís no wonder we all become heretics when we liberally apply the definitions above.
So, whatís the purpose of this rambling blog?
Our faith should be based on our own personal study of the Bible. No matter how good they may be, our pastors, teachers, popular books, commentaries, Aunt Mary and our next-door neighbors are not The Source. The Bible is. We have the Counselor, the Holy Spirit to help us understand.