Jump to content

My Love Of Heretics


zaidagal
 Share

Recommended Posts

Ive just noticed that all of the writers I love - Dallas Willard, Philip Yancey, Greg Boyd, Clarke Pinnock, Scott Peck - they all have been called heretics! I guess Im a heretic lover, lol!

 

Seriously - how come anybody who has an interesting/new/thought provoking idea or interpretation, others have to scream "heretic" at them! It drives me nuts! Those are all the writers who have helped me to become a Christian, and stay a Christian! Id say thats a GOOD thing, not a heretical thing!

  • Upvote 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Apparently the latest victim of the heresy hunters is Rob Bell who has a new book coming out soon where he apparently argues that hell isn't real. Rob Bell has been very popular with fundamentalist Christians, especially the younger Christians, but now they're all foaming at the mouth about how Bell has fallen into heresy and preaching a false gospel: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2011/02/26/rob-bell-universalist/ Rob Bell is pretty popular with the young people at my parents' church and they were going to do a bible class discussion on Bell's NOOMA videos but I wonder if they'll still do them now with the news that Bell is a "heretic."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There was a column in the Huffington Post on the controversy about Rob Bell’s forthcoming Love Wins. My library had a copy of his book Velvet Elvis. I can see why he’s popular with college students--his style is accessible. Part of this earlier book is on the subject of universal salvation --so I don’t get why all the focus on his next one. for example--

 

“For Jesus, heaven and hell were present realities. He talked very little of the life beyond this one because he understood that the life beyond this one is a continuation of the kind of choices we make here and now.

 

A Christian is not someone who expects to spend forever in heaven there. A Christian is someone who anticipates spending forever here, in a new heaven that comes to earth.

Jesus said that when he was lifted up he would draw all people to himself. All people, everywhere. Every tribe, every nation, every group, every tongue.

We have to be really clear about this. God’s intentions are to bless everybody.

If the gospel isn’t good news for everybody, then it isn’t good news for anybody.

 

For Jesus, the new life in him is not about escaping this world, but making it a better place here and now. The goal for Jesus isn’t to get into heaven. The goal is to get heaven here.”

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

...“For Jesus, heaven and hell were present realities. He talked very little of the life beyond this one because he understood that the life beyond this one is a continuation of the kind of choices we make here and now."...

 

 

There's an interesting article here that might be pertinent to this conversation.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A very important question - and one that seems to me to have no easy answer - is:- Who decides what heresy is?

 

What is "orthodoxy"?.....which follows.

 

There certainly seems a trend these days - at least within the Protestant movement - for people to reject "religion" in favour of what is called "a personal relationship with Jesus/God". "Religion" - identified as "institution" - is condemned.

 

Just what is heresy in any "personal relationship"?

 

Which seems a good question.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What is "orthodoxy"?

 

Orthodoxy, of course, changes over time, despite religion's effort to keep it unchangable.

 

Which brings me to: today's heretics may well become tomorrow's pioneers. :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A very important question - and one that seems to me to have no easy answer - is:- Who decides what heresy is?

 

What is "orthodoxy"?.....which follows.

 

There certainly seems a trend these days - at least within the Protestant movement - for people to reject "religion" in favour of what is called "a personal relationship with Jesus/God". "Religion" - identified as "institution" - is condemned.

 

Just what is heresy in any "personal relationship"?

 

Which seems a good question.

Often times it's church politics that decides what counts as heresy. In the case of the doctrine of the Trinity, when Emperor Constantine adopted Christianity as the official state religion of Rome, the church voted on the Trinity (even though there's no historical evidence Jesus ever called himself God) as a way to "unite" the church and the people under the sword of Constantine and anyone who expressed different views could be branded as an enemy of the state/church and anyone who was enemy of the state/church could be branded as an enemy of God. In modern times, Bush claimed that God told him to invade Iraq and anyone who opposed his manufactured war was branded as being an enemy of the state under the Patriot Act. When you claim God agrees with everything you believe, it's just one step away from claiming that your enemies are God's enemies and if your enemies are God's enemies, that makes it justifiable to do whatever you please to them. There's no greater sword to wield than the "word of God" in the battlefield of politics. Edited by Neon Genesis
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just what is heresy in any "personal relationship"?

 

Which seems a good question.

 

I agree.

 

Heresy is still possible to the degree that a group defines a certain relationship with God to be immoral/dysfunctional/impossible/etc.

 

How do you experience this relationship? How unequal is your relationship with God supposed to be? How much substantive help should you expect from God? How much do you view God as a person with human characteristics vs. a force or something else?

 

I think questions like these are how one goes about identifying heresy if one starts with a belief in personal relationships with God. For example, there's a book on my list called Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers, where two sociologist interviewed 3,000 teenagers, and they found a pattern of religious belief among them. They referred to this as "moralistic therapeutic deism". I haven't read it, but here's wikipedia's definition of moralistic therapeutic deism below:

 

1. A god exists who created and ordered the world and watches over human life on earth.

2. God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions.

3. The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself.

4. God does not need to be particularly involved in one's life except when God is needed to resolve a problem.

5. Good people go to heaven when they die.

 

This normatively defines one's relationship with God. To the degree someone vocally claims something else, the supporters of this view will consider you a heretic, even if they don't use the word per se.

 

 

As for who decides heresy in our society, it's messy. Centralized church hierarchies with a monopoly on faith in a given region aren't the norm in the US, so clean & formal announcements about heresy aren't possible. I think, however, the public (publics?) has a say in what is legitimate / heretical, not only church officials. Which just makes it more messy.

 

I also agree that judging something heretical is a political act, not just a theological one.

Edited by Nick the Nevermet
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just to state the obvious: It is a good thing that heresy has lost its teeth. Harsh and violent enforcement of dogma is bad in and of itself, as it is incompatible with a free society. Additionally, labeling people as heretics is about stopping conversation, not facilitating it, which means it's also bad for theology.

Edited by Nick the Nevermet
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

very thought provoking responses, everyone! Ive been seeing a lot about Rob Bell, and have a feeling he is a "heretic" (said tongue in cheek) I will add to my list....also, Shane Claybourne, read some FAB stuff from him....it just really concerns me that people want to label others, an in essence tell them "you are not a real christian", just because their understanding of scripture differs...I have very conservatice christian friends and we disagree about almost everything under the sun, but I would never label them "heretics" and never tell them they are not christian, and not with God...

  • Upvote 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Nicely put. I hadnt heard of Shane Claiborne before.

Maybe the book that addresses this topic most directly, including Tarikis point about specific definitions, is A Heretic's Guide to Eternity, by Spencer Burke (2006).

 

I enjoyed Rob Bells Velvet Elvis weird title but the language is refreshingly direct, conversational, and not simplistic. A few more quotes --

 

Questions are not scary. What is scary is when people dont have any. What is tragic is faith that has no room for them.

 

Being a Christian is about engaging the mind and heart more and more, not shutting them off or letting someone else think for you.

 

Christian is a great noun and a poor adjective. It is dangerous to label things Christian.

 

The problems come when salvation becomes all about me being saved. The bible paints a much larger picture of salvation; it describes all of creation being restored.

 

Our purpose is to increase the shalom in this world, which is why approaches to the Christian faith that deal solely with not sinning always fail.

 

It is one thing to be forgiven; it is another thing to become more and more the person God made you to be.

Edited by rivanna
  • Upvote 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

terms of service