By Mike Colaw
I am always amazed at how angry some Christians can be, how Christians love to take every idea that doesn’t line up exactly with how we were raised and declare, “Heresy!”
So what is heresy? My grandpa was an electrical engineer by day and a South Dakota-born, Sturgis Harley rider by night. There were years when he had multiple motorcycles parked in the garage. I have memories of going to motorcycle shows with my grandpa and him pulling me away from a tent saying, “Don’t go in there!”
Some of my relatives on that side of the family had a little different perspective of what was appropriate and what wasn’t. Though they were great people, it wasn’t uncommon to hear words that would have landed me in the bathroom with a bar of soap in my mouth, but did it make them heretics?
Awhile back I had a beard. One family in the church who was related to a group similar to the Amish wasn’t bothered by it at all. Another family who had old school holiness roots thought it was inappropriate for a pastor to have such a scruffy beard. Heresy? Or what about the great spiritual leaders that have gone before us? Martin Luther, heretic or hero? It depends on who you talk to.
Even now, after years of studying theology, I often hear wrong teachings by good people! Did you know that to use the Lord’s name in vain has nothing to do with cussing, but has to do with acting in a way contrary to the nature of God and calling it Godly?
When someone cusses using a name we attribute to God, though inappropriate, it isn’t technically using the Lord’s name in vain. The Crusades would be an example of using God’s name in vain. Under the banner of Christianity, they did something quite contrary to the nature of Christ.
I can’t tell you how amazed I am at how much false teaching there is out there when it pertains to the Bible, but are they all heretics?
Believe it or not, this isn’t a new problem. The inception of the church left our early spiritual fathers to wrestle through cultural differences and theological discrepancies. Creeds were formed all to bring light to what is core. Since the Chalcedonian, Nicene, and Apostle’s creeds, theologians have been seeking to define what is core.
There is another piece of this though, 2 Peter 2:1-10 teaches that the heart’s intent along with the content of the teaching is what makes someone a false teacher. The difference between an immature growing Christian lacking in Scriptural knowledge and a dangerous heretical teacher is absolutely content of teaching, yet we should also pay close attention to content of character. Christian, don’t just grow in knowledge, grow in character!