Friendly Fire: The Church’s War Against Heresy

By the grace of God, the Church has broken free from the bondage of what has been popularly referred to as “the Dark Ages”, during which church officials possessed an extraordinary amount of political power. For some time thereafter, Christians persecuted Christians—even to the point of death. Historically, the persecution of heretics was justified because church authorities believed that what they identified as false teachings were just as horrendous as the most heinous of killings. They were convinced that those who were deceived by “heretics” were essentially being led into postmortem slaughter; which was, according to their paradigm, much worse than murder.

Even though we are no longer enveloped by the darkness of those ages, anathemas are now pronounced with just about as much fervor and disdain as they were in times past. The only real difference between then and now, aside from the obvious fact that believers are slaying spirit rather than mere body, is the democratic tendency for just about anyone who has an opinion on what is written in the Bible to have the audacity to, in one way or another, condemn their brothers and sisters in Christ. The misappropriation of doctrinal propositions is just as prevalent as ever.

Christians rightly proclaim that Scripture is God-breathed. Yet, many also mistake their understanding of Scripture with the authority and inerrancy of scripture. Everyone who identifies themselves as a follower of Jesus has some sort of an opinion on what the Bible teaches. Needless to say, there is no consensus on the “correct” interpretation of every passage in the Bible. It is no surprise that every professing Christian believes that their theological convictions are valid. Otherwise, their “convictions” would not be their own.

As a result of faulty assumptions, many, whose beliefs do not line up with modern-day orthodoxy, are treated as though they have been deceived or intentionally dishonest. In a previous blog post, I mentioned how many are convinced that they could not possibly be mistaken theologically because they believe that the Holy Spirit has revealed the absolute, undiluted truth to them. Some are more studious than others as they examine the scriptures; while others yet do not bother to invest any amount of effort into hermeneutics, but rely solely on “special” revelation. Nevertheless, neither group is any less committed than the other to their supposed inerrancy.

Thousands of denominations have formed specifically because of this mindset. Division in the body of Christ has been become acceptable and room for disagreement has become offensive. Churches have split over the most petty of differences, only to establish yet another brand of churchianity with constitutions that shun those who cross their thresholds; that is, unless they are willing to be congregational yes-men. Christianity has dulled any opportunities for iron to sharpen iron. Pastors spend most of their time preaching to the choir and far too little time teaching their congregants that Christ expects us to test all things as we carry out our ministry of reconciliation. Even though more unity has developed over time, the division that remains is sobering.

If we fail to test the presuppositions that are dearest to our hearts, we will fail to persevere till the end and to hold fast onto that which is good and true. If we cannot possibly be mistaken with any aspect of what we have come to believe, we will label nearly everyone that crosses our path as deceived/dishonest and probably as a heretic that fosters apostasy. If we do not strive to preserve liberty regarding issues that are not essential to saving faith, we will remain at war with those who are within and the battle will be all but won by the enemy from without.

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12 thoughts on “Friendly Fire: The Church’s War Against Heresy

  1. QUOTE: “Yet they all disagree in one way or another about one doctrine or another.”

    I’m not going to let you get away with such a vague, blanket statement.

    1._ Prove it. Name the doctrines in which they disagree.

    2._ When disagreements arose, the Church met in councils and hammered out the truth. All those who would not agree with the mind of the Church were dismissed as heretics.

    3._ This began at the very first council of Jerusalem (Acts 15) regarding the circumcision issue.

    4._ This is the historic manner in which the Church has always worked out the problem of those who have a revelation, a dream, an idea. The Church meets, the issue is discussed and prayed about, and an answer is given. To remain in the Catholic Church, one must adhere to the mind of the Church, which is the mind of God.

    5._ The Roman Church deviated from this. She is in a state of heterodoxy at this time. The Protestants left the Church altogether. They reject the teaching of the Church. They are schismatics. Jesus said that if one did not listen to the Church, one should be considered as one would a pagan. That’s pretty strong stuff.

    I’ll look forward to you showing me which doctrines are disagreed about in Holy Orthodoxy. Don’t even bother posting Roman trash like merit, indulgences, papal infallibility, original sin and other musings of Augustine which took their church in the wrong direction. It’s wrong and it belongs strictly to Rome. When they repent of these things, they will be welcome to rejoin the Church.

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  2. “Christians persecuted Christians—even to the point of death”……Perhaps some and mostly Catholics but hardly the Church of Jesus Christ. One of the big errors of those who exalt themselves (another error) or their interpretations (not making an accusation) is confusing the Church with the organization called Catholic. By calling Catholicism The Church is to encourage the delusion that she was ever established by Christ which she was not.

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    • Do not mix up the catholic faith and the catholic Church with the Roman Church, which calls itself Catholic. The word “katholicos” means “universal” or “of the whole.” It is best described by the fourth century saint who said “the catholic faith is that which has been believed EVERYWHERE, in ALL PLACES, and at ALL TIMES.”

      Roman doctrines do not meet with this definition, especially those of merit, indulgences, papal infallibility, and the Immaculate Conception. However, this does not validate Protestantism AT ALL, especially since there is no historic and authoritative link to the apostles, who alone were given the authority to run the Kingdom of God here on earth.

      There is one katholicos faith, expressed best and perhaps most clearly by the Nicene Creed. There is one Church, which is katholicos, and wherever you find churches that adhere to the apostolic faith, you have found THE CHURCH.

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      • My comment to this article was posted on the site as follows:

        Do you stop to think about what you are writing, or do you just plow ahead with your agenda to prove that Evangelicalism existed in the first century? I mean, really, the first test you give to prove the “essentials,” that of historicity, completely knocks Evangelicalism from any consideration of being either orthodox or particularly true. The facts are easy to find, but most Evangelicals (especially preachers) don’t want anything to do with them because they know once they start reading the FACTS – they will either become Catholic or Orthodox. This is what happened with Hank Hanegraff and now he is paying the price for his fidelity to the truth.

        FACT: The Eucharist has been declared, taught, and practiced to be the very Body and Blood of Jesus Christ since the beginning of the Church. The various Evangelical ideas regarding, most of which involve it as a bare memorial meal, didn’t crop up until some 1500 years after Christ and the Apostles.

        FACT: The same is true with baptismal regeneration. As early as the first decade of the second century we see instructions to believers as to how to baptize infants and how one “goes into the water dead and comes out alive.” Your idea of “believer’s baptism” doesn’t have a leg upon which to stand, both from a historic reading of the Early Fathers of the Church as well as from a covenant standpoint.

        Then, when you go on to talk about point two – the history of the Church – you really step in it. How in the world am I suppose to believe that Evangelicalism is the historic Church when no evidence of it existing prior to the nineteenth century and C.G Finney exists? The particulars which distinguish Evangelicalism from Holy Orthodoxy simply cannot be found in the first, second, third…..etc centuries of the Christian faith.

        You end your discourse with a hefty round of Bible-thumping, not seeming to realize that even within Protestantism, there exist numerous assemblies who teach different “essentials” and will question your salvation if you differ with them. Sola Scriptura is flawed to the core, and any good Orthodox exegete could school you on this in a moment. I am not the one to do this, as I am weak in this area and need more study, but the idea of perspicuity is make a joke by the 40,000 + denominations/churches in Protestantism who all argue with each other over essentials and non-essentials and yet claim they are being led by the Holy Spirit and the Bible.

        I’m sorry I can’t be a little more charming in my disagreement, but one of the greatest shocks to my system was to actually read the Early Fathers of the Church without all the Calvinist blather attached to it. Neither my Bob Jones Fundamentalist pastor of 13 years, nor my PCA Calvinist pastor had even mentioned there were such men or their writings. Needless to say, I realized one day, much to my dismay, that if I had lived in the fourth century and brought my claptrap to the Council of Nicea, they would have thrown me out on my ear while screaming “REPENT, HERETIC!” at the top of their lungs. The merest reading of the Early Fathers shows them to be considerably intolerant of new ideas that bucked the system. For them, the Church established what is orthodox Christianity, and if you don’t go along with it – leave!!!

        Which, unfortunately, Protestants and Romanists did and now are trying to claim catholicity in their teachings while ignoring the historical teachings of the Church.

        It won’t work.

        Again, Charles, I thank you for continuing to work with me, but you have a tall order to overcome. Christ established the Church, it is called His Bride, and He said that those who ignore the Church are to be….well, see for yourself –

        Mat 18:17
        And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.

        Pretty strong language, wouldn’t you agree?

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