Sunday, December 23, 2012

On The Difficulty Of Avoiding Being A Heretic In Today's Church

You really have to work hard to NOT be a heretic presently. Hint, anytime you disagree on an issue with theological significance with most of 2000 years of Christian tradition, you’re probably a heretic—especially if you’re a pastor, elder, or church leader. Here’s an amusing note: I’ve RARELY met anyone with a title like ‘head pastor’ who I haven’t considered a heretic. The pastors who I’ve considered orthodox rarely have more than 150 or so in their congregation, with many having much less.

Here’s only part what you’re got to do to NOT be a heretic:

You have to strongly oppose abortion and make no bones that it is a serious sin

Ditto homosexuality

You have to have a complementarian as opposed to egalitarian or equalitarian view of men and women. You have to teach the whole Scripture on male-female relationships, not just what is comfortable to the women in your congregation.

You also have to not put women on a pedestal as somehow more pure or sinless than men.

You have to not put minorities on a pedestal as being somehow more pure or sinless than white people. In short, you can’t be an ‘anti-racist’—read, anti white. Those who would like to disagree with me on this point are invited to explain why pretty much everyone pre-1960 in Christendom is wrong and THEY and the current cultural zeitgeist are right.

It’s damned hard not to be a heretic today. This isn’t even an exhaustive list, it’s just sufficient to declare a supermajority of pastors today rightfully heretics.


Chevalier de Johnstone said...

If one subscribes to the belief that the Catholic Church is the true church, this is far less of a problem, since Catholics do not accept that individual perceptions of the Scripture are dogmatically accurate; thus, if your priest says you don't have to, say, strongly oppose homosexuality, but only the sin of extramarital same-sex copulation, and you believe that you do, in fact, have to oppose homosexuals - then in fact you are wrong. (I realize this is a straw man, as it is not what you said.) Of course the Church, while hierarchical, is composed not only of its ecclesiastical ministers but also of the laity, and it is conceivably possible for the laity to be correct and one priest to be wrong. Or even many priests. However, if your priest, the members of your congregation and your Bishop all agree on a matter of dogma and you disagree, perhaps you ought to pray regarding whether or not your personal interpretation of Church dogma does, in fact, supersede everyone else's, including that interpretation made by those members of the Church who are specially called by God to serve Him and the people of His Church.

In addition, as a non-theological and practical point of order, I believe you may be confusing the definition of "heresy". Heresy is a matter of belief, and profession of disbelief. If your priest believes the Church teachings regarding the sin of infanticide, but chooses not to fill every Sunday sermon with diatribes against the evils of promiscuous young women who seek abortions, perhaps thinking that it might be better to keep such sinners in the Church and coming to Mass and as members of the parish community where they can be educated and helped out of their sinful ways - and you don't like it because you think you can do his job better than your priest can - this is not, in fact, heresy. At least, not on behalf of your priest.

Jehu said...

Heresy is false teaching or belief about Christ, God, or Christianity coupled with the refusal to be corrected. As to the responsibility of the parish priest, I'm not Catholic, but there exists the responsibility to make known the position of the church on moral issues. This is especially true for elephants in the room---theology of the body issues and issues as regards marriage. If you teach constantly on the responsiblity of men and only on the rights of women and never on their responsibilities, in my opinion, you are a heretic.
As to the soft-pedal approach---how's that working out for you guys in the Catholic church? Frankly I think you'd be much better served with a hardcore crackdown---i.e., if you're engaged in these activities, we expect to see you regularly in confession and at least TRYING to act as if you loved the Lord.

Truth be known, the claim that the Pope has to trace supply from the office given Peter is stronger than I'm entirely comfortable with. Were he to actually act as if he believed he had that kind of authority I'd probably have to swim the Tiber.

Bill said...

Contraception and masturbation are absent from your list (you said it was not exhaustive, I know). They surely qualify as things all Christians have believed gravely sinful for 1900 years or so.

Your points about swimming the Tiber and about soft-pedalling the faith are very apt. Among the many statistics which collapsed immediately after the Second Vatican Council were adult conversions to the Church in the US (a majority of which were Protestants converting). As soon as we started acting like we did not believe our own bs, nobody else did either.

I believe my own bs enough that I will now begin praying for your conversion.

Jehu said...

Contraception indeed does qualify, the position of the church on that was pretty unquestionably monolithic throughout history. Not sure on masturbation. Ironically, as a Protestant I'm far more willing to give the Pope the time of day on these issue than most of his own. Of course I view the Pope presently like a 4 star general in the army of God that happens to command a different army group. He of course is alleged to possess 5 stars, as the Vicar of Christ, but there's abundant question as to whether he's even in command of his own army group (ROMCOM?). Not to say that the command structure I'm attached to is any better really. I'm fond of a few of our local junior officers, one of whom is my present pastor, but we both agree that our upper command structure is rotten.

There is a hunger in the Church for even a 4 star that we can get behind wholeheartedly. He doesn't have to be perfect, that's impossible anyway until our Commander in Chief returns to take the field, just good enough that I can say 'We can't spare this man, he fights!' with a straight face when he encounters the inevitable difficulties and reversals.

Phineas said...

I've said before that I'd probably have converted myself if Vatican II (and more importantly its aftermath) had never happened.

As for heresy, St. Thomas defines it as "a species of infidelity in men who, having professed the faith of Christ, corrupt its dogmas". Jehu's short list seems to fit the bill.

Proph said...

Chevalier is on to something. Protestants like to say that they're in no worse a boat than Catholics since, after all, many (maybe even the majority) of Catholic clergy and theologians are heretics, too. The problem is that the Fr. McBrien types are not just bad Christians in the sense of which Jehu is writing here, they are also bad Catholics. Catholic orthodoxy is rigidly defined, rigidly enough that there's really no wiggle room for compulsive perverts and their apologists. The hierarchy of the Church paired with the rigidity of its orthodoxy virtually guarantee a reversion to the mean over time (bearing in mind that the mean is still not objectively too great). What is there to check the worst impulses of modernism as expressed in the Protestant denominations? "Conscience"?

Samson J. said...

Ironically, as a Protestant I'm far more willing to give the Pope the time of day on these issue than most of his own. Of course I view the Pope presently like a 4 star general in the army of God that happens to command a different army group.

Ha, ha... Jehu, you think very much like I do; I like it.

Were he to actually act as if he believed he had that kind of authority I'd probably have to swim the Tiber.

Yeah, I would LOVE to see that. (The Pope act like a leader, I mean.)