Re: Heresy

From: wallyshoes <>
Date: Fri Jan 02 2004 - 14:14:06 EST

George Murphy wrote:

> wallyshoes wrote:
> >
> > As you all may know by now, I am a serious defender of the dictionary as
> > the proper usage of words. Upon hearing so much ado about heresy
> > recently, I consulted my dictionary. I was surprised to see:
> >
> > "a dissenter from established church doctrine: especially a baptized
> > member of the Roman Catholic Church who disavows a revealed truth."
> >
> > This does not strike me a fair because it was my mother's idea to have
> > me baptized as a Roman Catholic and I did not get to vote.
> >
> > Regardless, I am a 100% bona fide heretic and am therefore qualified to
> > judge the situation. You may submit your qualifications to me
> > (preferably off-line) and I will make a call. Until then, you all may
> > consider yourselves merely to be invincibly ignorant ;)
> >
> > No offense to any RCs on the list!
> Walt -
> A general purpose dictionary is OK as far as it goes, but sometimes it doesn't
> go far enough when you get into some specialized area. A person who insisted on
> discussing "stimulated emission" or a "Kerr black hole" in terms of a general dictionary
> definition could quickly get into trouble. The same is true with theology. _The
> Westminster Dictionary of Christian Theology_ (which has a 1/2 page article on "Heresy"
> by the Anglican Stephen Sykes) would be a useful resource to have available. Of course
> there are others.
> In the definition you cite you should note the word "especially." The concept
> of heresy is by no means limited to the RC church, though the formal definition of it
> developed in RC canon law during the Middle Ages has been very influential. The idea
> that all those baptized in the RC church are responsible to that church for their
> orthodoxy does seem problematic, especially in a case like yours. But there are a
> couple of truths that ought to be retained.
> 1st, only a Christian can, properly speaking, be a heretic. Pagans are wrong,
> but they aren't heretics.
> 2d, individual Christians have some responsibility to the whole Christian
> community for their beliefs, and that people can't simply believe whatever they want to
> and expect to remain members of the Christian community. Of course the whole American
> spirit of individualism that has pervaded churches in this country hates that idea, but
> so much the worse for it.
> Here's another point worth noting. Conservative Christians who take the ideas
> of orthodoxy and heresy seriously tend to think it's an all or nothing matter: A
> statement or belief is either orthodox or heretical. The RC tradition has a more
> nuanced spectrum: A statement can, e.g., be said to be "temerarious," which your
> dictionary may define as "unreasonably venturesome, rash, reckless." I.e., "Watch your
> step!" OTOH, heresy - denial of a specific doctrine - is not the same as "apostasy,"
> which is denial of the entire Christian faith. I don't think that a lot of hair
> splitting or name calling is helpful, but it might be good for us to pay a little more
> attention to such nuances.

Fine thing, George. Here, at last, I have something relatively unique to offer and you steal
my glory ----- and from someone who is invincibly ignorant, no less! ;)


Walt Hicks <>

In any consistent theory, there must
exist true but not provable statements.
(Godel's Theorem)

You can only find the truth with logic
If you have already found the truth
without it. (G.K. Chesterton)
Received on Fri Jan 2 14:14:19 2004

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