Heresy Topical Study

Preaching and Worship Resources about Heresy

A transliteration of the Greek haíresis, from hairéō (to take, to choose), heresy in the New Testament originally meant a faction or sect: "Indeed, there have to be factions [haíresis] among you, for only so will it become clear who among you are genuine" (1 Cor. 11:19). By the second century A.D. it came to represent a corruption of theological truth corresponding to the distortions of false teachers: "But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive opinions [haíresis]" (2 Pet. 2:1). As a human construct with a strong distaste for revealed mystery, heresy cleans up orthodoxy's bad math — on the Trinity, for example (e.g. Arianism), or on the two natures of Christ (e.g. Docetism). As it is almost always an oversimplification of God's revealed mystery, heresy is a species of theological laziness. As it is almost always a triumph of human reason over divine revelation (Col. 2:8), heresy is also grounded in human hubris and hence a species of "faction" classified as one of the "works of the flesh" along with such things as licentiousness, idolatry, and envy (Gal. 5:19 - 20). More than mere disagreement on peripheral matters, heresy is the opposite of orthodoxy and thus, in its opposition to the truth (2 Tim. 3:8), is a denial of the one who is "the way, the truth, and the life" (John 14:6; c.f. 1 John 2:21 - 22). Heretical persons are thus to be opposed and avoided (Titus 3:9 - 11) by believers who, led by the Word and Spirit, "contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints" (Jude 3).

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Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.