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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Heart of Heresy

Heresy is "doctrinal deviation from the fundamental truths taught by Scripture and the orthodox Christian church, with an active propagation of the same" according to New Dictionary of Theology. I have found that heresy may have begun with good intentions and even reflect some truth. It often begins with the overemphasis of a truth at the exclusion of all other truth.

For example, baptism is important in the Christian faith. It can be so emphasized that it becomes salvation itself. Grace is therefore defined as the gift of baptism. Faith can be left out in the cold with this heresy.

On the other hand, grace can be so emphasized that no one will ever go to hell. Universalism generally puts all of its emphasis on God's love. Human reasoning takes the place of Scripture when accepting universalism. People ask, "How could a loving God send people to hell?" They fail to understand that God does not send anyone to hell. People make a choice of rejecting Him.

This is true across the board. We can emphasize God's provision so strongly that we make tithing a way of receiving much more money from the Lord. We can emphasize God's blessings so much that we make the failure of a blessing a flaw in our own actions. We can become as superstitious as the witch doctor who dances to bring the rain. The failure of rain means he didn't do the dance correctly.

The truth of the Scripture must be taken wholly rather than piece by piece. We honor our parents and we have a full life. We give our hearts to Jesus for salvation and eternal life. We follow Him fully and we have an abundant life. We give generously and we are blessed with the understanding of God's provision. We seek righteousness and we are humbled.

I believe it all fits together. I believe we are always becoming like Jesus. I believe that our lives are always being changed and improved upon as we become like Jesus. I believe that God is actively bringing us to Himself always. He is always seeking to give us grace. That grace may be understood in tragedy or blessing.
God's desire is not only that we come to Him in salvation but that through that salvation we become like His Son.

The emphasis of any statement in Scripture to the exclusion of other statements becomes the heart of heresy. It takes all of Scripture to teach us to be complete. None of it should be excluded.

Romans 8:29-30 (NIV)  
29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV)  
16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

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