The Definition of Heresy

Heresy or heterodoxy is the persistent teaching of false doctrine. The Bible determines what doctrines are false. This may seem dangerous to some, because they think that the Bible is open to many conflicting interpretations. Such opinions have existed for many centuries. They are nothing new. They are still wrong. The Bible interprets itself.

True, the Bible does not address some things. Which gasoline should you put in your car, which soft drink should you have for lunch —| these questions do not concern the Bible, unless you intend to harm somebody with your gasoline or steal your soft drink. We can safely decide such questions on our own.

But where the Bible does have something for us to learn, it is possible that we might contradict it. Such contradictions happen all the time. We all make errors, because we are not divine (as the saying goes anyway). If our error is teaching false doctrine, and we insist on continuing to do so in the face of the Bible’s clear correction, we have become “heretics,” or false teachers.

All of this was taught at Northwestern College, a school you will no longer find in Watertown, Wisconsin.

There is another kind of heretic, though it is not recognized by God in the Bible. Instead, it is increasingly recognized by various leaders of church and para-church organizations. If you state, … No let me rephrase that. If you merely imply that the organization has made a doctrinal error, and you fail to backtrack and correct yourself once the implication is noticed, then you have found the alternate path to heresy.

OK, so that alternate path does not really exist. Then why are there such debates over whether someone has or has not charged a particular organization with false doctrine? Why such disbelief when someone points out an error, whilst giving assurances that no charges are being made? It’s as though the organization has a self-preservation reflex. I should point out that such things have been noted before, about 500 or so years ago.

It seems to me that if an organization were quietly to become heterodox, it would never admit it. It probably would not even realize it. Rather, it would act in precisely the way previously described: defending its reputation on the basis that it simply can’t make mistakes, because it’s “orthodox.” Heresy would no longer be a contradiction of the Bible, but a contradiction of the organization. The issue, then, is not “What have you said that is wrong,” but “What have you said that might impugn us.”

Just some food for thought. I’m not naming any names here, or implying anything. Use at your own risk.

Leave a Reply