Hearty Heresy


You Might Just Be a Heretic If…
February 23, 2007, 11:42 am
Filed under: Christianity, Heresy, Jesus, Religion, Theology

Sometimes I think I’m the only one talking about heresy on the web these days (there may be a lot of heresy around, but not a lot of talk about it). But globe-trotting religion guy Andrew Jones (and others) have been blogging about it recently. Looks like the big question is whether or not emergent Xianity is heretical. Now I don’t want to get into the specifics of the emerging church movement (other than to say it’s not heretical enough for me!), but I do appreciate this definition I found thanks to Jones:

HERESY is an intentional…rejection of an essential element of the faith as outlined in the three creeds (Apostles’, Nicene, Athanasian) embraced by all four streams of the universal Church (Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Protestant, and Anglican). False doctrine and heresy are synonyms.

Now you’re not going to find any false doctrine here–only my opinions. I do, however, reject just about every essential element outlined in the big three creeds. And so do most folks who’ve officially left Brand Xianity. And I’m will to bet that a lot of folks who still go to church because they appreciate the community don’t agree with every single thing in them there creeds. So where do you fit in? In case you haven’t had to say them in a while, here are the Wikipedia entries for the Apostles’, Nicene, and Athanasian creeds.

Finally, there are still no takers for my “name the anti-Christ” contest. Don’t worry, if you win I won’t send you a heretical book. But I will send you a little gift certificate to amazon.com. Really.

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8 Comments so far
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Goodmorning, HH. Have to disagree with you today. Most folks who’ve left the church were probably involved in churches where the creeds were seldom – if ever -discussed (outside of their traditional Sunday morning affirmations). Most people (not all) leave the church because they do not experience the church truly “living out” the life of the One that is affirmed in the creeds. The traditional liturgies of the church; which often include the creeds, is becoming increasingly popular in the emergent, postmodern church indicating that there is an interest to express the life of Jesus in our communities in a way that is supposedly more faithful to the first centuries of the faith. The church functioned far more as an organic movement than it did an institution during its first centuries. At the same time, you would be write: community (when it is real community) is incredibly important to we Christians. We share life together and encourage one another to walk in the way of the Cross and help each other understand what that means. We don’t make each other perfect, but we help keep each other focused on Jesus. The big problem: there are not a lot of places where this kind of Christian community exists, but where it does exist you usually find churches that are having significant impact on their communities and the world.

Comment by j4jesus

I think you’re right about the ratio of creed saying to church leaving…at least that was my experience. I remember when we’d actually say the creeds at the Methodist church where I was raise, I’d sometimes go, “Huh? We’re supposed to believe all that?” Of course, there was another time in my life when the creeds weren’t getting close to describing what I thought a relationship with Jesus should be like. Wait a minute…that’s now! I’ll agree, too, that real community where people are passionately living out their faith does have a significant impact on the world.

Comment by heartyheretic

I don’t know if I’d consider the Athanasian creed “big,” but I actually agree with the other two. Belief in a creed does not necessarily rule out correct Christian practice. The Apostles’ and Nicene creeds are not meant to describe “relationship with Jesus” nor to be a substitute for it. But I agree when a creed replaces the relationship, it has got to be put in its place.

Comment by ganes

Yeah, I’m not sure about the Athanasian creed, either. It’s not really up there with the Apostles’ and the Nicene. But you are absolutely correct about there being something wrong when creeds replace relationship, exactly because they weren’t meant to describe a relationship with Jesus. I suppose one might try to build a case that they describe the interrelationship of the Trinity, but that gets us discussing God again, which, as I’ve said, may not be the best use of our energy.

Comment by heartyheretic

You know, I think I have to agree with J4 on this one. Though a statment of belief is important to some, my experience is that finding a christian community that accepts individuals, values them and allows them to use their gifts is more important to many folks. I think this is why you see alot of people who come from mainline churches crossing denominational lines trying to find places where they can be valued and live out their callings. What’s great is that many of these progressive congregations — sometimes in defiance of denominational affiliations — are doing a pretty good job of giving folks the freedom to sort out their own interpretation of the Gospel, etc.

Comment by Potterdad

“…the freedom to sort out their own interpretation of the Gospel, etc.” There is a lot more freedom in churches these days, which is a good thing as far as I’m concerned. Just as long as all of the assumptions are stated, even if it means making some kind of statement–belief, mission, vision, whatever. My concern is for folks who may be coming for the community and finding out later that they’re being asked to buy into something that they just can’t take to heart. Having to leave a community you love can be devastating.

Comment by heartyheretic

True, true…I presumed the knowledge of a community/congregation’s mission was understood and that was the reason for wanting to be a part. But you’re right, sometimes its not so apparent and I can think of examples of folks who thought they were finding a place of acceptance and found out that they were wrong. It is a devastating and often humiliating experience. Which speaks to your original point…often a church/congregation/community uses the acceptance of one of the aformentioned creeds as the stated test for entry. And though someone may affirm that belief, there are other unstated litmus tests being applied — race, class, gender — without the individual’s knowledge until its too late.

Comment by Potterdad

Yes, indeed, race, class, and gender (not to mention sexual and affectional orientation) may be subject to unstated litmus tests. They can really get in the way of building the beloved community. Maybe that should be our first test….

Comment by heartyheretic




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