Hearty Heresy

Heresy Goes Bad
July 6, 2007, 12:06 pm
Filed under: Bible, Christianity, God, Heresy, Jesus, Religion, Theology

Now here’s a quote that warms my heartily heretical heart:

What we have today, because of the development of orthodoxy, is a worldwide church with which the apostles would not identify and in which they would not feel at home. In reality, that orthodoxy is yet another heresy.

That’s what Peter Nathan says in “Orthodoxy: Just Another Heresy?” He asks, “…just who decides what is orthodox belief and what is heretical?” And his answer, from a heretic’s point of view, is absolutely correct. Here’s what happened, according to Nathan: The early followers of Jesus were defined by what they believed and by how they lived their lives. It was really pretty simple. “They believed that Jesus was the Messiah, had been resurrected from the dead, and had called people to walk as He walked. When they did, they became followers of’ ‘the Way’ of God.” “The Way,” by the way, had to do with following the basic tenents of Judaism, as interpreted by Jesus (all together now!), love God and love your neighbors.

Orthodoxy, which doesn’t show up until 135 C.E., is about “intellectual agreement,” with the emphasis on agreement. Walking as Jesus walked is no longer necessary in order to be saved. According to Nathan,

For religion, the result was the development of creeds—authoritative statements to be memorized and used as strict standards of belief by which a certain uniformity could be established. Under this system, whether a person understood underlying concepts was immaterial. Because orthodoxy is a matter of thought and knowledge rather than behavior, it is primarily concerned with philosophy, and it relegates behavior to a secondary position.

This is why the Humble Orthodoxy folks (bless their hearts) feel the need to modify the word orthodoxy. Orthodoxy is all about the creeds, baby. At any rate, heresy was not a negative term originally. In the first century, it was more or less the equivalent of “sect,” and followers of “the Way” were just another Jewish sect. But, says Nathan,

…if we fast-forward to the late second century, we find the term heresy taking on a new meaning. Now it has acquired the sense of false teaching and is used to characterize those who teach contrary to the emerging “orthodox” understanding.

And that, boys and girls, is when heresy went bad. Okay, so Nathan’s article is very short and by no means thorough. It is, however, pretty much in sync with what I’ve been reading lately. “Strange as it may seem, orthodoxy, as it is discussed in church history, was not a feature of the early church. It was foreign to the world of Jesus and His disciples, and of those who followed them.”


2 Comments so far
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“The Way” that isn’t anything like “The Secret” is it? Unfortunately, sometimes I am not a very good follower of “The Way.” Oh well, something to work towards.

Comment by pastorofdisaster

Well, we all know that “The Secret” is pretty darn heretical, so maybe sorta. And since no one is a really good follower of “the Way,” it’s fortunate that Jesus made it clear that God is a loving and forgiving God. Otherwise we ALL be in trouble (Brand Xians and heretics alike)!

Comment by heartyheretic

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