Jesus’ focus was on “hypocrisy” more than “heresy,” and it might just be an indication of how far we’ve strayed for us to give so much attention to “heresy” and not enough to “hypocrisy.”[1.]
It seems from both sides of the Christian partisan isle, the heretic agenda is still prevalent within Christendom. When we proclaim the charge of heresy-which in the context of the Greek in the Christian scriptures, literally means division-it’s hard to really find a unified common ground with each opposing group. The point of all religion, especially the Christian traditions in my opinion, is to be unified in love (Col. 3:14). Yes, we are all seeking to do what we all think is right when it comes to the Christian faith. Both sides of the left/right Christian divide are pushing the “we’re right you’re wrong” cause, which ends up creating the heretic agenda. Is this the only route we can take when “others” come up with ideas/practices that do not align with ours?
As history shows, the heretic agenda has only brought division, death and destruction. Is this part of being a participant with Jesus? I mean honestly, how the fuck did we ever think burning someone at the stake was Christ-like?! You can click here to view the list of individuals who were executed/tortured due to the heresy charge of the “Christian” church. With regards to today’s cultural context, we have taken the execution/torture part out of the equation (yay) but the destructiveness of the heresy agenda is still at play.
I would like to take a couple examples from both sides of the Christian faith that are throwing out the heresy card and see how much it differs from what Jesus did 2,000 plus years ago. I believe there is a difference, and we are definitely not practicing the path that produces unified love through these heresy accusations. These examples of heresy accusations from individuals are in no way trying to bring about judgement on them. It is merely a way of showing the hypocrisy of it all. We are all guilty of hypocrisy throughout are way of functioning in life. We all need some unveiling at times to expose our false assumptions of moral superiority (take the log out of our own eye, ring a bell?).
Let’s go ahead and take the first example from the progressive side. John Pavlovitz is an author/pastor/blogger who really goes after the current political climate of conservative Christians with their support of Trump and his administration. Look, he has a lot of really good and important things to say in regard to this subject. I agree with a lot of it! The thing that I have issue with and what I believe to be hindering the repentance (change of mind in order to change your path) of these groups is his charge of heresy. Take this for example:
So, apparently the issue of nationalism is “against the orthodox belief of Christendom and/or an opinion that is contrary to what is accepted”? In essence, what Mr. Pavlovitz is proposing is that he abides in the pure orthodoxy of the Christian faith and these Bible Belt Christians do not. According to his blog, these Christians are practicing “nasty heresy that is straight-up of the devil”! Man, that’s a hefty accusation. Is it true?
Now, let’s peep out the conservative side of the isle. Currently, the Catholic Church is dealing with a heresy charge on Pope Francis himself (how ironic, don’t you think?):
Prominent clergymen and scholars including Fr. Aidan Nichols, one of the best-known theologians in the English-speaking world, have issued an open letter accusing Pope Francis of committing heresy. They ask the bishops of the Catholic Church, to whom the open letter is addressed, to “take the steps necessary to deal with the grave situation” of a pope committing this crime.[3.]
What did the Pope do to deserve this “infamous” title? Well, according to his accusers: “Pope Francis’ embrace of positions contrary to the faith and his dubious support of prelates who in their lives have shown themselves to have a clear disrespect for the Church’s faith and morals.”[4.] How broad and narrow minded can you get here? Why are we so terrified of people with differing views? Yes, there are more details to this claim, but it just boils down to different practices and associations. Again, do we divide, or do we look to embody our differences in unity?
Look, I get the horrible effects of nationalism within the culture of Christianity. I also get the importance to care for our community and to protect them from the harmful effects of bringing about unhealthy practices. Any type of fundamentalism that pops up from either side is only a stumbling block to the unity of the faith. But, in the end, the heresy agenda does not produce the fruit of love (Gal 5:22-23). Let us say goodbye to this unhealthy agenda and embrace the unity of Christ: I in them and you in me…
“Ye shalt locate false teachers from online evidence or in person whilst they preacheth and drive public campaigns against them. Making sure everyone knows just how shocking they are, thou shalt pick at the teaching of others and bring to light their heretic ways. Attack their theology in any way it does not align with thine own personal theology. Ye are free to call them names, label them and destroy their ministries. This is pleasing to me.”Said God, never.