Sunday, February 26, 2006


A number of comments in the Post-Charismatic forum and emails have voiced some questions recently that touch on an important issue:

Does holding an erroneous theological understanding (a "false teaching", if you will) make someone automatically a "false teacher", or even - in the extreme - a "heretic" (one who has departed so far from the centre of Christianity that they cannot truly be considered "Christian" any longer)?

Of course, there are many in the blogosphere who seem to think that they've developed a fool-proof "Heres-O-Meter" that can flawlessly detect even the slightest toxic deviation. Unfortunately, the "margin for error" on these Heres-O-Meters often tends to be quite large.

Remember the somewhat minimalist "Chacedon Compliant" quiz that made the rounds a while back? Two things to keep in mind regarding this little quiz:
  1. It's just a fun little quiz, not the final arbiter of orthodoxy, and
  2. most of the people who took the quiz were "Chacedon Compliant" (orthodox in their Christology) but had a wide range of secondary influences, some of which would qualify as questionable, if not heretical, beliefs.
What it all boils down to is that the most important line of orthodoxy comes from the mouth of Jesus:
When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, "Who do people say the Son of Man is?" They replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets."

"But what about you?" He asked. "Who do you say I am?"

Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." (Matthew 16:13-16)
To call a teaching or practice into question is not synonymous with judgmentally calling someone a false teacher, a heretic, or labeling someone as leading others into delusion. Ultimately, it is the teaching and/or practice that is the issue, not the personalities.

Bad theology in some areas doesn't make people heretics and/or false teachers, if they are also Chalcedon compliant. Incorrect in some areas, taking things to extremes in others, not handling Scripture carefully -- yes. Heretics (outside of the faith)? -- I'm just not prepared to go there, if they are also Chalcedon compliant.

Besides, the battery in my Heres-O-Meter is dead. And the warranty ran out. The instructions were written in FOR-TRAN. And it never really worked right in the first place, anyway.