Mark Driscol over at The resurgence writes in Now the Mainline Churches Make Sense As he and his son passed a “liberal mainline church” his son asked what the beliefs of that church were.
and I told him they do not believe people are sinners, do not believe the Bible is to be taken literally but is more like a fantasy video game, do not believe you need Jesus to go to heaven, and do believe that being gay is cool with Christ.
For a minute he looked like a dog that had just heard a high-pitched whistle and there was an awkward silence as he waited for me to say I was just kidding. After a few moments he could tell I was being serious and then said, “That is the exact opposite of what God says in the Bible. How can they still call themselves a church? They should get another name because they’re just confusing people if they say they are a church.”
“They’re just confusing people!” I think that was the most intelligent summary of heresy I’ve heard in a long time. My oldest daughter and I have these kind of discussions fairly regularly. It’s tough as an adult living in a world increasingly hostile to truth. It’s even tougher growing up in that world. But wait, haven’t we all grown up in that world? Is life really getting worse or are the patterns of evil just shifted around from generation to generation. In truth I’ll have to choose the latter. Pretty much after Adam took that first bite of the forbidden fruit – their open eyes started seeing the trouble they created.
Today, should it really surprise us that people call evil “good” and good “evil”. It doesn’t shock me. But then I do have a cynical bent. I’m not certain cynicism is all that righteous but it does give me the capacity to let a lot of garbage roll right off my back without affecting me.
My daughter (and Mark Driscol’s son) haven’t yet developed the thick skin of cynicism yet – and they remain awed and angry when such blatant abuse of the scriptures is veiled behind stained glass windows. Come to think of it, I remember another fellow getting angry over some pretty blatant abuses of scriptures taking place behind the stained glass. His name was Martin Luther and he took charge of change by posting 95 statements of fact as he saw them upon the door of the church.
That move was one of a series which sparked a firestorm. He didn’t really want to destroy or separate from them however – he hoped to reform the church – to fix it.
Today we’ve lost the desire to fix – we just want to separate. So we withdraw and create another denomination.
What, however, is the biblical approach to Heresy? Correction. Christians are indeed required to judge others who declare themselves to be Christians (1 Corinthians 5-6 should provide a nice enough overview). Why sit in judgement? Not because of some flawed “holier than thou” complex but rather because we ache for the moment of repentance and the resultant reconciliation. Hymenaus and Alexander were “handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme” by they apostle Paul. I have no doubt that just like the young man sleeping with his stepmother in 1 Corinthians that the intent was to cure them not kill them.