Re: [asa] Why couldn't you write your d*mn book more clearly?

From: George Murphy <>
Date: Sat Mar 15 2008 - 13:47:31 EDT

David -

Responses below to your points in 2 recent posts.

1) Would it be correct, then, that any Roman Catholic in a teaching position who holds to a non-monogenetic origin (i.e. an evolutionary origin) for humanity is a "heretic"?

I'm not going to pretend to be an RC canon lawyer. I don't know how precisely such a person would say that monogenesis has been clearly "defined" as a teaching of the RCC. One might also have to ask whether "a non-monogenetic origin" refers to a single group of more than 2 first humans or to several such groups at different places & times.

2) The language of ANATHEMA in scripture seems limited to deviation from the "gospel" (Galations 1), particularly with respect to grace vs. works, and not loving (PHILEO, interestingly) Christ (1 Cor. 16:22). And whether one calls Jesus ANATHEMA or Lord is a test of whether a person is speaking by the Holy Spirit (I. Cor. 12:3).

Correct. What I was doing was simply citing a traditional formula of condemnation, anathema sit. The Augsburg Confession, in stating that the confessors oppose the teachings of various individuals and groups, use the word verdammt (condemned), varied sometimes with verworfen (rejected).

3) Was DIDASKALOS (James 3:1, DIDASKALOI, teachers) an official office in the early church?

It's hard to know what kind of church offices or recognized magisterium had developed in the community of which the author of James was part. The only real clue we have here is that he (if it was a he, which seems pretty likely) considered himself among the teachers.

  ----- Original Message -----
  From: David Opderbeck
  To: George Murphy
  Cc: ; ; ;
  Sent: Saturday, March 15, 2008 12:15 PM
  Subject: Re: [asa] Why couldn't you write your d*mn book more clearly?

  On Sat, Mar 15, 2008 at 11:42 AM, George Murphy <> wrote:

    1) The term "heresy" is best reserved for teachers, or those who presume to be teachers, in the church. (Cf. James 3:1) The traditional language of condemnation, "If anyone says XXXX, let him be anathema" is really directed to such teachers rather than those who simply accept what they're told by them - though the distinction will not always be clear cut.

    2) There are nuances between straight orthodoxy & outright heresy that, e.g., the RCC uses. The following paragraph from the online Catholic Encyclopedia at , while of course stated in terms of that communion's self-understanding, may be helpful.

    Both matter and form of heresy admit of degrees which find expression in the following technical formula of theology and canon law. Pertinacious adhesion to a doctrine contradictory to a point of faith clearly defined by the Church is heresy pure and simple, heresy in the first degree. But if the doctrine in question has not been expressly "defined" or is not clearly proposed as an article of faith in the ordinary, authorized teaching of the Church, an opinion opposed to it is styled sententia haeresi proxima , that is, an opinion approaching heresy. Next, a doctrinal proposition, without directly contradicting a received dogma, may yet involve logical consequences at variance with revealed truth. Such a proposition is not heretical, it is a propositio theologice erronea , that is, erroneous in theology. Further, the opposition to an article of faith may not be strictly demonstrable, but only reach a certain degree of probability. In that case the doctrine is termed sententia de haeresi suspecta, haeresim sapiens ; that is, an opinion suspected, or savouring, of heresy (see THEOLOGICAL CENSURES).

    The phrase "tantamount to heresy" is also used sometimes.

    3) But with all that, I agree that we ought to be cautious about tossing around the terms "heresy" or "heretic."

      ----- Original Message -----
      To: ; ; Gordon.Brown@Colorado.EDU ;
      Sent: Saturday, March 15, 2008 10:00 AM
      Subject: Re: [asa] Why couldn't you write your d*mn book more clearly?

      On the other hand, the definition of "heresy" has to change with the times. More truth has been revealed and we are morally responsible for what we do with it. As an extreme but clear example, there are truths that weren't revealed until the NT era, which to deny would be an indicator that we don't know God at all.

      I don't think YECism is categorically "heresy" because I'm not convinced the scientific data are equally accessible to all persons. Therefore, denying the age of the Earth doesn't categorically indicate that we don't know God. But surely people who don't have a heart willing to submit to real truth are committing grave error. Some YEC's are indicating greater error than others because they have greater access to the truth and really ought to know better. Ancient YECism was no sin at all since there was no access to the truth at all. The sin isn't in how much truth we have available to us, but our willingness to submit to the truths that we do have and what our response says about the state of our hearts.


      -----Original Message-----
      From: George Murphy <>
      To: John Walley <>; 'gordon brown' <Gordon.Brown@Colorado.EDU>;
      Sent: Sat, 15 Mar 2008 9:02 am
      Subject: Re: [asa] Why couldn't you write your d*mn book more clearly?

      I have to dissent. Ham's notion that a ~6000 year old earth & "no death before the fall" are essential to Christianity is nonsense but those are, in fact, ideas that many - at some times the great majority - of Christians, including leaders of the church, have held. We can't postumously anathematize them. While dangerous & disruptive nonsense should be called what it is & vigorously opposed, it is not necessarily formal heresy.
      ----- Original Message ----- From: "John Walley" <>
      To: "'gordon brown'" <Gordon.Brown@Colorado.EDU>; <>
      Sent: Friday, March 14, 2008 11:29 PM
      Subject: RE: [asa] Why couldn't you write your d*mn book more clearly?
      Maybe Ken Ham doesn't technically deny any of the fundamentals that we
      otherwise share, but he does add a couple of more of his own, like a 6000
      year old earth and no death before the fall which they consider part of the
      litmus test for orthodoxy. Which is worse, denying shared fundamentals or
      adding burdensome and falsifiable extra fundamentals? The net result is the
      same, false and destructive teaching. And the NY speaks very harshly about
      Granted I would like to give every average church going YEC the benefit of
      the doubt and attempt to show them why this is important and hopefully they
      wouldn't still insist on it, but in the case of the hardcore ones that
      steadfastly refused (like Ham) then I think you have to take action. We see
      a pretty good parallel of this in the NT when the Judaizers added to the
      gospel the doctrine that they also keep the Jewish law and for which Paul
      had a strong rebuke and called "another gospel".
      -----Original Message-----
      From: [] On
      Behalf Of gordon brown
      Sent: Friday, March 14, 2008 10:49 PM
      Subject: RE: [asa] Why couldn't you write your d*mn book more clearly?
      On Fri, 14 Mar 2008, John Walley wrote:
> Bottom line, I feel Protestantism is flawed because there is currently
> no mechanism to excommunicate people like Ellen White, Herbert
> Armstrong and Ken Ham.
      Excommunicating Ken Ham strikes me as being rather extreme. Ellen White
      and Herbert Armstrong founded their own churches because they disagreed
      with traditional Christian doctrine concerning the Bible or the Trinity.
      Granted, Ham reinforces a popular false stereotype of Christians and the
      Bible, and we ought to try to correct that widespread impression, but it
      doesn't seem Biblical to me to want to excommunicate someone because he
      believes in pseudoscience unless he also denies some fundamental of the
      faith. Although he may wish that we who are not YECs could be
      excommunicated, we should strive not to let our differences with YECs
      prevent fellowship with them.
      Gordon Brown (ASA member)
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  David W. Opderbeck
  Associate Professor of Law
  Seton Hall University Law School
  Gibbons Institute of Law, Science & Technology

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Received on Sat Mar 15 13:49:49 2008

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