Hearty Heresy

Another Group of Heretics I Like
October 29, 2007, 3:01 pm
Filed under: Christianity, God, Hell, Heresy, Jesus, Religion, Theology, Uncategorized

Every once in awhile I stumble upon a group of Christians who do a wonderful job of articulating what I would call the true Gospel of Jesus. One such group is The Center for Progressive Christianity, which offers “an approach to Christianity that is inclusive, innovative, and informed.” What do they mean by that? Well, here are their 8 points, which they say are designed “to present an inviting expression of a particular approach to the practice of Christianity.”

By calling ourselves progressive, we mean that we are Christians who…

  1. have found an approach to God through the life and teachings of Jesus.
  2. recognize the faithfulness of other people who have other names for the way to God’s realm, and acknowledge that their ways are true for them, as our ways are true for us.
  3. understand the sharing of bread and wine in Jesus’ name to be a representation of an ancient vision of God’s feast for all peoples.
  4. invite all people to participate in our community and worship life without insisting that they become like us in order to be acceptable (including but not limited to):
    *believers and agnostics,
    * conventional Christians and questioning skeptics,
    * women and men,
    * those of all sexual orientations and gender identities,
    * those of all races and cultures,
    * those of all classes and abilities,
    * those who hope for a better world and those who have lost hope;
    * without imposing on them the necessity of becoming like us.
  5. know that the way we behave toward one another and toward other people is the fullest expression of what we believe.
  6. find more grace in the search for meaning than in absolute certainty, in the questions than in the answers.
  7. form ourselves into communities dedicated to equipping one another for the work we feel called to do: striving for peace and justice among all people, protecting and restoring the integrity of all God’s creation, and bringing hope to those Jesus called the least of his sisters and brothers.
  8. recognize that being followers of Jesus is costly, and entails selfless love, conscientious resistance to evil, and renunciation of privilege.

I’m not sure if there’s an expression of Christianity that I could find that would be any more in sync with what I believe about Jesus. I am sure that these 8 points would probably be considered heretical by Brand Xians and condemn these folks to eternal torment. Too bad.


Those Damn Unitarians
October 3, 2007, 9:56 pm
Filed under: Christianity, Faith, God, Hell, Heresy, Religion, Spirituality, Unitarian Universalists

The Unitarian Universalists are starting an new ad campaign to increase awareness of their religion (I know, any Bible-believing Brand Xian worth his salt would call them a “cult”). To go along with the ads that will be appearing in TIME magazine, they’ve come up with a 10 minute video that explains who they are. Biggest bunch of heretics I’ve every seen!

Seems I’m Emergent/Postmodern
July 26, 2007, 6:17 pm
Filed under: Bible, Christianity, Faith, God, Hell, Jesus, Religion, Spirituality, Theology, Uncategorized

I can’t remember which blog first tipped me off to this, but here are my results from the “What’s your theological worldview?” quiz at QuizFarm:

You scored as a Emergent/Postmodern

You are Emergent/Postmodern in your theology. You feel alienated from older forms of church, you don’t think they connect to modern culture very well. No one knows the whole truth about God, and we have much to learn from each other, and so learning takes place in dialogue. Evangelism should take place in relationships rather than through crusades and altar-calls. People are interested in spirituality and want to ask questions, so the church should help them to do this.

Modern Liberal
Classical Liberal
Roman Catholic
Neo orthodox
Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan
Reformed Evangelical

What’s your theological worldview?
created with QuizFarm.com

I’m pretty cool with this, given the number of Brand Xians running around calling the Emergent Church heretical. Still, I hesitate to associate myself to closely with any single theological point of view.

Visit the Fred and Wilma Flintstone Memorial Museum
June 26, 2007, 5:46 pm
Filed under: Bible, Christianity, God, Hell, Heresy, Jesus, Religion

There’s a post from another blog that I’ve wanted to share for a couple of weeks now, and since it seems that I’m currently unable to come up with even a single original thought, now’s the time. I’m especially happy to have a ready-made post title available, courtesy of Red State Rabble, who points us to BlueGrassRoots‘ dead-on guided tour of the Answers in Genesis Creation Museum. If it weren’t so scary, I’d say it was hi-fraking-larious. These are the same people I blogged about a while back, the ones whose logic runs like this:

Creation Guy: Hey, kids, just because the word “dinosaur” isn’t in the Bible doesn’t mean that dinosaurs didn’t exist in biblical times. I mean, there are lots of words that weren’t invented when the Bible was written, like “computer,” right?

Brainwashing Victims: Right!

Creation Guy: But you believe that computers exist, don’t you?

Brainwashing Victims: Yes!

Creation Guy: In fact, Jesus had a BlackBerry so God the Father could communicate with him. That’s why he was always going off alone into the desert and stuff. God was texting him.

But I jest. Would make a good song, though, wouldn’t it? “Jesus Had a BlackBerry.” Everybody now!

Jesus had a BlackBerry

Tucked underneath his robe

So God could tell him what to say

And by-pass his frontal lobe

“Just tell ’em you’re my own dear Son

Destined for the Cross

And if they don’t believe you

We’ll show ’em who’s the Boss

Yes, we’ll fry ’em in a fiery pit

And show ’em who’s the Boss!”

I think I missed my calling. I should be writing words for praise songs! Hallelujah!

Are You a Heretic? Take the Quiz!
June 5, 2007, 2:00 pm
Filed under: Christianity, Faith, God, Hell, Heresy, Jesus, Religion, Theology

Finally, a way to tell whether or not you’re 100% orthodox (and therefore ready to join God, Jesus, and the rest of the gang–Jerry Falwell, Pat Roberston, James Dobson, and that lady with a mess of blond hair at TBN–in eternal bliss) or a just a little bit of a heretic (which means you’ll be spending eternity burning in hell with me…if you bring the marshmallows, I’ll bring the Hershey’s chocolate bars and graham crackers). Thanks to Dagurreotype for pointing out this fantastic quiz from QuizFarm.com. I’m so excited about it, in fact, that I’m posting this before I’ve taken it myself. So…take the quiz and let me know how you did. I’ll post my results soon.

A Heretic’s Guide to Brand Xianity
May 15, 2007, 11:09 am
Filed under: Bible, Christianity, God, Hell, Heresy, Jesus, Religion, Theology

I’m thinking that what I need to do is start Hearty Heretic’s College of Heretical Knowledge. But before I could do that, I’d need a textbook, something along the line of Howard Zinn’s People’s History of the United States: telling the story of Brand Xianity “from the bottom up,” and “throwing out the official version…taught in [Sunday] schools.” Granted, a lot of heresy is slipping back into Christianity these days (just google the words “emergent” and “heretical”), but there’s no one place to go and get a heretic’s-eye-view of what Brand Xianity looks like in toto.

So for now well have to do what folks on the bottom have always had to do when it comes to trying to discern the truth about the status quo: read between the lines. For example, did you know that (according to an article in The Evening Bulletin)

Last week, the International Theological Commission, a pontifical commission of 30 international Catholic theologians that advises the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, concluded its study on the question of whether salvation is attainable for babies who perished prior to baptism…. “Our conclusion is that the many factors we have considered … give serious theological and liturgical grounds for hope that unbaptized infants who die will be saved and enjoy the beatific vision,” wrote the commission in its report titled, “The Hope of Salvation for Infants Who Die Without Being Baptized.”

This is big news for unbaptized babies (and, apparently, for aborted fetuses). The church has decided that they will no longer have to remain in “limbo for eternity, absent communion with God.” This whole limbo thing grew out of the church’s teaching on original sin, specifically St. Augustine’s view of it (which was based, by the way, on a mistranslation of Rom. 5:12). He was pretty hardnosed about it, writing “that there was no ‘middle ground’ between heaven and hell and ‘there is no middle place left, where you can put babies.'” So limbo was the church’s attempt to temper it’s own teachings. And now their tempering them even more by providing an opportunity for salvation that doesn’t require baptism.

At any rate, the secret history here is that there was an alternative to the concept of original sin that the church might have accepted, but didn’t. Those of us who’ve studied the history of Brand Xianity know all about the monk Pelagius, who denied the doctrine of original sin, and his heresy, Pelagianism, which says that infants “were completely innocent and promised eternal life.” Pelagius based his thoughts on a slew of orthodox writers, and, according to W.H.C. Frend in The Rise of Christianity,

In circumstances other than those of the first decade of the fifth century his teachings might have provided a basis for a Christian ethic which would have set the seal of conversion on the empire. Medieval Europe might possibly have been built on different and more optimistic foundations.

Well, we’re not in the fifth century any more–something the Catholic Church even seems to realize. Unwavering adherence to doctrines like original sin bring with them all sorts of unpleasant implications that need to be explained away (or not, read “24 Reasons Not to Reject Limbo” in the Bulletin). Or, we can admit that there have always been alternatives to Brand Xianity, and just because once upon a time some version of “official” Christianity ruled against them doesn’t mean we can’t seriously consider them. But be careful. Thinking for yourself is one of the hallmarks of heresy.

The Rise of Heresy
May 1, 2007, 11:26 am
Filed under: Bible, Christianity, Hell, Heresy, Jesus, Religion, Theology

I’ve been reading W.H.C. Frend’s The Rise of Christianity, and it’s made me wonder, “How does one get three first initials, anyway?” The book has got me thinking about other things, too. But it’s big, like over 1000 pages, and only marginally readable. You have to actually enjoy reading about things like Origen’s Hexapla, “on which he started c. 212 and worked on for the next forty years…, a vast synopsis of the various extant editions of the Old Testament.” I’m determined to slog my way through it because I figure that reading about the rise of Brand Xianity will tell me a lot about defeat of heresy in the early church. So far, I haven’t been disappointed.

Here’s the deal. I’m well into the Third Century of Brand Xianity, and so far there’s absolutely nothing about it as a institution that’s even moderately impressive (that is, impressive to the point where I’d say, “Gee, Hearty, you’ve got this orthodoxy thing all wrong…maybe your really are a Brand Xian!”). Sure certain individuals stand out, some for their courage, some for their intelligence, and others for their compassion. Of course, there’s cowardice, stupidity, and cruelty as well. But it wasn’t a “pagans bad, Xians good” kind of thing. There were all kinds of people all over the spectrum of beliefs. In fact, I bet that if Belief-O-Matic were available back then, hardly anyone would have ended up being 100% pagan or Xian.

And that’s the point. There’s always a been a fudge factor in Brand Xianity. And it seems that the leadership plays hardball in only a couple of situations: one, when they feel they’re being persecuted (and it seems that Brand Xians feel persecuted whenever other religions are tolerated); and two, when someone with marginally orthodox views becomes too popular with the laity. At any rate, one of my big heresies is Universalism, and I was reconfirmed in it after reading the section on Origen. Here’s what Frend says,

Creation, however, was always sustained by God who destined it for ultimate restoration. Humankind was in this world to be educated in the love of God. None of God’s creatures therefore could be so depraved as to be incapable of any goodness…. [A]ll creation moved forward to that goal: “for there is no part of creation entirely out of harmony with that final unity and concord.”

As I’ve pointed out before, concern about the existence of Hell is still a driving force for some folks to preach the Gospel of Brand Xianity, even some of them there hip, young, bloggy pastors (like Perry Noble). My preference? Just preach the love of God. Yep, that’ll do.