Showing posts with label Heresy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Heresy. Show all posts

Friday, May 26, 2023

Too Hot to Handle: Heresy and Clerisy

In which our regular writers toss around subjects a little more volatile than usual.

It’s been a while, but Gretta Vosper is back in the news again. (Immanuel Can and I discussed her previous exploits here and here.)

This time, the United Church minister — the denomination’s only out-of-the-closet atheist — has dodged a bullet in the form of a looming heresy trial. Turns out the UCs just couldn’t bring themselves to pull the trigger. The United Church General Council says Vosper will not be placed on their Discontinued Service List, and she may continue to offer God-free services to a handful of aging parishioners.

Sunday, February 12, 2023

Theological Misreadings

In a move that was all-but-inevitable from the moment they started ordaining women, Church of England bishops have announced they are launching a “major project on gendered language” in the next few months, with the goal (at least in some quarters) of moving away from the use of gendered pronouns for God. It might start with prayer language, but would quickly escalate to the rewriting of hymns, creeds and scripture itself.

“Our Parent who art in heaven,” anyone?

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

The Sniff Test

A heresy in the popular sense is a belief or theory at odds with established beliefs or customs. This is the way I will use the word throughout this post, and it’s not far off the way the word is employed by the writers of the New Testament.

Heresies vary in magnitude, detectability and potential consequences. Some heresies are obvious, and therefore easily avoided; others come couched in weasel words and obscured by rhetorical sleight-of-hand. Some heresies are outright damnable; others merit commendation or disapproval.

Few heresies pass my sniff test.

The religious world is full of theories. The sniff test is a set of criteria by which I make my own quick-’n’-dirty assessments of whether to buy into the theory behind any sermon, book, video or random expression of theological opinion. Other believers have their own sniff tests. A friend recently emailed me a link to a video with the tag line “Can you smell the brimstone?” Indeed, I could; the video provoked yesterday’s post.

Friday, January 08, 2021

Too Hot to Handle: Heretics Aplenty

In which our regular writers toss around subjects a little more volatile than usual.

According to Shane Morris of The Federalist, a LifeWay Research survey of 3,000 people found that significant numbers of Americans who identify as Christian actually embrace ancient heresies.

Tom: The survey results confirm my own prejudices, Immanuel Can. I’ve been reading for years that upwards of 80% of Americans claim to be Christian, and I’ve never been able to buy it. You can’t convince me Roe v. Wade has been law for the last forty-plus years because of 20% of the U.S. population.

Do you find the general public level of knowledge about Christianity surprising?

Friday, October 30, 2020

Too Hot to Handle: Worth Leaving Over

In which our regular writers toss around subjects a little more volatile than usual.

In principle, I’m not keen on leaving churches. It happens too often and too easily. But sometimes, there just isn’t any choice.

When Gretta Vosper became the pastor of a West Hill United Church in Toronto, Canada in 1997, she was not yet out of the closet about her atheism, a little bonus she didn’t disclose from the pulpit until 2001. Amazingly, quite a few congregants hung on until 2008 when Vosper did away with the Lord’s Prayer, at which point 2/3 of the flock made for the exits.

Tom: I’m not sure precisely where the line is, but I’d have difficulty faulting anyone who leaves a church with an atheist pastor, IC. From your experience, what are the ingredients that go into making for a “time to go” decision?

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Recommend-a-blog (29)

Evangelicals are under attack. The bigger the denomination, the more resources and congregants they have, and the more formally they are constituted, the more enthusiastically the enemy is coming at them.

The Southern Baptist Convention (15 million members) is currently hardest hit, but that makes a certain sort of sense: they are the second-largest Christian denomination in the U.S., and the largest Protestant denomination. Get effective control of that behemoth and you’ve really accomplished something.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Reverse Engineering the Faith

“I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.”

Conservative scholars generally date the book of Jude to between A.D. 66 and 90. In his book The Untold Story of the New Testament Church, Frank Viola opts for a likely date of A.D. 68. William MacDonald uses internal evidence to place authorship between A.D. 67 and 70. I have not come across much that would incline me to argue with either man.

All these estimates place Jude as one of the very last books of the New Testament to be written and distributed to the first century churches.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Too Hot to Handle: Heresy and Clerisy

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Bad Ideas and Good People

A bad idea never once walked into your church on its own. Ideas don’t have legs.

No, bad ideas have carriers, much like the flu; infected people who transport them from location to location to allow them to spread. The carriers have smiles and good qualities and apparent wisdom in other areas of life. They have histories of service to God’s people, kids who are friends with yours, and wives who are sometimes even nicer than they are. They invite you out for meals, they volunteer to run the youth group, or they are found in the basement of the church building of a Saturday with plunger or mop in hand, cleaning assiduously.

Okay, I’ll concede that last one only happens with certain types of ideas ...

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Heretics and Coffee

What is a heretic, really, for practical purposes?

her·e·tic, noun, one who dissents from an accepted belief or doctrine

No, no. If we’re going to sling around religious terminology, we’d better consult the experts:

“Heresy is the obstinate post-baptismal denial of some truth which must be believed with divine and Catholic faith, or it is likewise an obstinate doubt concerning the same …”
— The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC 2089)

We use the word pretty casually in Christian circles when someone says something a little off the spiritually-beaten track, but mostly we mean it frivolously.

Monday, October 30, 2017

New and/or Reactionary

Gary McIntosh has written an intriguing guest piece for Christianity Today on the subject of the history of spiritual gifts profiles, and it raises a bigger question concerning the validity of new movements and trends within Christendom.

Given a minute, you’ll probably think of half a dozen examples of what McIntosh means by “spiritual gifts profiles”. Books, seminars and platform ministry on the subject of gifts are found everywhere these days. These attempt to inventory and describe each of the spiritual gifts given to believers by the Holy Spirit of God with a view to helping Christians recognize the gifts they’ve been given and use them more effectively for God’s glory.

But McIntosh points out that this level of attention to the gifts is a fairly recent phenomenon; perhaps not quite big enough to refer to as a “movement”, but certainly a notable trend.

And to some people anything new is automatically suspect.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Too Hot to Handle: Heretics Aplenty

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Friday, October 07, 2016

Too Hot to Handle: Worth Leaving Over

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Heretics and Coffee

The most recent version of this post is available here.