Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Call it what it is!

we have become concerned lately over the abuse of the term 'Heresy'. It has a meaning, namely theological error so serious that it overthrows the faith. Unfortunately some people, even Reformed people, have been guilty of using the term in a sloppy way: for example, a man whom we look up as one of the greatest Bible expositors in England today has been described as a 'heretic' in our hearing simply for holding that remarriage after divorce is unbiblical. Granted, he may be WRONG, but that is not a heresy. Again, we know a dear Christian brother who believes that Christains ought to worship on the seventh, not the first, day. We think he is wrong, but could not condem him as a heretic for his opinion.
We do not hold Dispensationalism, which we hold to be attended with all sorts of difficulties, as a heresy in and of itself. True, some forms of Dispensationalism, such as that which holds that the types and shadows of the ceremonial law were in fact saving realities, ARE heretical, but it would be a brave man who called John MacArthur heretical for his eschatalogical views!

Eschatology is the area in which we have the most freedom according to the historic Reformed confessions. No one millennial scheme is taught, for example. There ARE eschatalogical heresies, the visible, bodily return of Christ 'in like manner' as He went into heaven for example, or the denial of, the denial of the resurrection of the dead, and universal salvation. Most heresies are found in the areas of Theology proper (doctrine of God), Christology, Soteriology and Anthropology (Pelagianism, for example, is an Anthropological heresy).

So let us be very careful with this word, unless we want to debase it. Let it be reserved for TRUE heresies, things that destroy the Gospel, not for mere differnces of opinion.


Machine Gun Kelley said...

Good post brother.

Over here, people will call you a heretic more quickly for denying the pre-trib rapture than for denying the Trinity!! ;)

Highland Host said...

I have apparently been called crazy for saying that Dr. MacArthur's arguments for the pre-trib rapture are laughable. But not heretical yet. Not for that anyhow. But I know the problem. It happens here among certain of the brethren.

I know a man who used to go to a very strict Brethren-type church in London. It was close to an orthodox Baptist Church (this was over fifty years ago), and one night this man had a nightmare that he went into the Baptist Church. Yes, that was the nightmare, that he went into a Baptist church. He left the Brethren-type church soon afterwards. I don't know if he ever did really go into that Baptist church.

On weird dreams, I once had one where I was mistaken for a Roman Catholic bishop and forced to preach in the local Roman Catholic cathedral. I woke up before I finished the sermon, but the cathedral staff weren't happy.