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Tuesday
Feb122013

Theological Term of the Week


heresy
An erroneous teaching, especially on issues of significance to salvation, requiring true Christians to divide from those who hold or teach it.

  • From scripture:
  • But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. (2 Peter 2:1 ESV)

    I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—[7] not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. [8] But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. [9] As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. (Galatians 1:6-9 ESV)

  • From A Biblical Guide to Orthodoxy and Heresy by Robert Bowman:
  • [W]e may classify heresies into six major categories:

    1. Heresies about revelation — teachings that distort, deny, or add to Scripture in a way that leads people to destruction; false claims to apostolic or prophetic authority.
    2. Heresies about God — teachings that promote false gods or idolatrous distortions of the true God.
    3. Heresies about Christ — denials of His unique Lordship, His genuine humanity, His true identity.
    4. Heresies about salvation — teaching legalism or licentiousness; denying the gospel of Christ’s death and resurrection; and so forth.
    5. Heresies about the church — deliberate attempts to lead people away from the fellowship of true Christians; utter rejection of the church.
    6. Heresies about the future — false predictions for which divine authority is claimed; claims that Christ’s return has taken place; and the like.

     

    Note that errors in any one of these six categories tend to introduce errors into the other five. Take, for instance, the heretical view held by many groups that the church became totally apostate in the early centuries and thus had to be “restored” in the last days. This doctrine implies (1) that Scripture is not a sufficient revelation, but needs supplementing or “explaining” by some authoritative teacher or publication. It also almost always serves as a basis for rejecting the early church’s views of (2) God and( 3) Christ. Since the Reformation is rejected as falling short of the needed restoration, (4) the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith is likewise rejected. And the doctrine of a restoration comes to dominate the group’s views of (5) the future, as it requires them to view many or most biblical prophecies about the future as finding fulfillment in their own group.

Learn more:
  1. Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry: What Is Heresy?
  2. GotQuestions.org: What is the definition of heresy?
  3. Robert M. Bowman: A Biblical Guide to Orthodoxy and Heresy
  4. Derek Thomas: Heresy Defined and Examined (audio)

Related terms:

Filed under Defective Theology

Do you have a term you’d like to see featured here as a Theological Term of the Week? If you email it to me, I’ll seriously consider using it, giving you credit for the suggestion and linking back to your blog when I do.

Clicking on the Theological Term graphic at the top of this post will take you to a list of all the previous theological terms in alphabetical order.

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