By: William Jackson
My wife wife was called a heretic the other day by her old Pastor because of what we believe in, the one and ONLY God (Isaiah 43:11, Hosea 13:4, Deuteronomy 6:4)
So assuming this Pastor uses his words correctly I wanted to see if I was a “heretic” or not.
Heresy is from Greek meaning “choice” or “thing chosen”. It also refers to that process whereby a young person would examine various philosophies to determine how to live (1).
In this form, Heresy doesn’t sound threatening, so who gave Heresy it’s fangs?
It was Saint Irenaeus (2), a Bishop within Roman Empire. He wrote a book called “Against Heresies” which was an attack against Gnosticism. Gnosticism, a threat to some Christians at the time, is an ancient religious concept which rejects the physical and embraces the spiritual.
About 200 years after Irenaeus’s book, the fangs of heresy was able to draw blood. This was motivated by the Roman Empire who was imposing Christianity as “The Religion of Rome” (3). So in 386 AD Romans started to be put to death as heretics (sounds like ISIS). People being killed as heretic would go on for the next 1,400 years.
The Catholic Church has an extensive reputation for executing people for heresy, but in later years Protestants would executed Catholics as heretics. The last recorded case of somebody being executed for heresy was a Spanish School Master executed by the Roman Catholic Church in 1826 (4).
So by these standards what is a heretic. Anyone who does not possess your religious belief is considered a heretic, IE. to a Muslim a Christian is a heretic.
So lets talk about who Christians consider heretics. To make our point we will consult the New Testament;
2 Peter 2:1 But there were also false prophets in Israel, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will cleverly teach destructive heresies and even deny the Master who bought them. In this way, they will bring sudden destruction on themselves.
A Heretic is a False Teacher. Lets remember the NT wasn’t canonized until well after the first century, so a false teachings would have been apposed to the Torah not the NT.
Titus 3:10-11 A man that is a heretic (Strong’s 141 – Causing Division) after the first and second admonition (warning) reject; Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.
So a heretic can be someone who creates strife or division. Anybody that has ever been in the Christian church long enough has seen factions and/or divisions in our churches. Many of us left said churches because our faith matured. I guess this could be most of us, even those that use the accusatory finger of heresy.
“But I thought a Heretic is when somebody doesn’t take JC as their savior?”
People usually use John 14:6 to make this point. Here the Christian messiah answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
Lets look at the entire context;
Starting at Chapter 13 this is JC talking to his disciples at the Last Supper. JC is talking about his impending crucifixion and is advising his disciples to be strong. They don’t appear to be following him. He tells them he is going to prepare them a place. He reminds them that they know where he is going and how to get there (John 14:1-4). Thomas then says “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”. JC responds to Thomas questions with John 14:6 (see above) JC did not say “I am starting a new religion with you guys, and this religion is the only way to avoid hell.”
But if we did decide that we HAD to go through JC to get to God what about these verses:
Jeremiah 29:13 ‘You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.
Psalm 91:15 (This is God making a promise to us because we know and love Him)
When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him.
1 Samuel 2:30 Therefore the Lord, the God of Israel, declares: ‘I promised that your house and the house of your father should go in and out before me forever,’ but now the Lord declares: ‘Far be it from me, for those who honor me I will honor, and those who despise me shall be lightly esteemed.
We didn’t need JC before, so why was he added?
Acts 4:12 is another verse Christians use to condemn supposed heretics. It goes;
“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”
But this is in contradiction to these three verses.
Isaiah 43:11 I, I am the Lord, and besides me there is no savior.
Hosea 13:4 But I am the Lord your God from the land of Egypt; you know no God but me, and besides me there is no savior.
21 Declare what is to be, present it—let them take counsel together. Who foretold this long ago, who declared it from the distant past? Was it not I, the Lord? And there is no God apart from me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none but me.
22 “Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other.
At this point one must choose between God and JC. Even JC said to pick God. Look at the parable JC told about the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31). The point of this story was that salvation comes through the Tanakh “…listen to Moses and the Prophets…” (v 31)
I guess to all Muslims and Christians; because I believe the ONE God is my savior then to them I am a heretic.
Hmm-mm, I guess under the above rules this would make many a heretic to me, just kidding they have enough to worry about.