Everyone’s a Heretic: The Overuse of “Heresy”

mini-ice-cream-floats asked:

Hi Pastor. I was looking at your posts and a lot of them were very encouraging in terms of staying with the Christian walk. That said, I read that Tim Keller is a heretic. I don’t know much about him, but some say yes, others no. I think one of your posts quoted from him. What do you think? Thank you.

Hey dear friend, thank you so much for your kind words.

Normally I want to be super gracious and thoughtful and nuanced here, but please allow me to get just a tiny bit upset. Not at you, my dear friend, but at this word “heretic.”

The thing is, you’re a heretic. So am I. So is everyone.

We’ve all said dumb things about God. You and me both. None of us have it completely right about Him and no one owns the monopoly on Christian theology. While I do believe that God is knowable, I also believe that some of our differences in doctrine do not deserve the blanket term “heresy.”

Let’s keep in mind that calling someone a “heretic” or a “blasphemer” a few hundred years ago was a serious accusation that would get someone sent to a funeral pyre. A stake burning. A lynching. It’s a terrible disgusting word that comes from an embarrassing time in church history. It’s essentially damning someone to hell.

Let’s also ask the question, Who is saying that this person is a heretic? Who makes someone the watchdog and gatekeeper and arbiter of the Christian faith? At what point does one human being with a three lb. brain say to another human being, “You’re wrong about this divine supernatural being called God” …? Is there so much more to know than loving Jesus and loving people? Wouldn’t anything else be negotiable?

That means the seventy-five year old man who finds Jesus is a heretic. Nope, sorry, you don’t know enough Bible, old man. The ten year old child who loves Jesus is a heretic. Sorry, you don’t know about supralapsarianism and pneumatology, little buddy. Only scholars and saints and ascetic monks could possibly know enough Bible to be qualified for the pearly gates.

This reminds me of when church-people are quick to yell “Pharisee” and “legalist,” because we’re so scared of The Other. Our human nature will find any possible way to demonize the other side. See? I just did it, right there. We build camps and tribes and dichotomies so we can say, “At least I’m not like those Christians over there.” We find one little disagreement and then make a division instead of building bridges. We don’t give each other a chance. And maybe faith is more simple than we make it.

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