Saturday, July 20, 2013

Heresy: a series (part 1)

During my early years living in Sacramento and working as a telephone operator one of the places I lived was in an old mansion which had been turned into a rooming house. I was trying to save money to enroll in Bible College but never made it. The first room I lived in was in the basement, the next on the main floor in what must have been the paneled living room or perhaps a dining room. Finally I lived in a room created in the attic where I could look out over the backyard.
There were quite a few bathrooms including one with a deep bathtub with clawed feet and a pull chain toilet. There were several kitchens also, but they were too dirty to use—I ate out thus ruining my idea of saving money.

The people who lived there were quite interesting. One lady was French and claimed she had worked as a nanny for the Kennedys. When she visited my room to see my presents from a wedding shower (the reason I never made it to Bible College) we talked about marriage. She said she could never pick out her own husband. Her father would do so—she might make a mistake and marry a black man! She had an ideology, she was a racist.

My landlady was Mormon. A very nice lady; we did some shopping together and talked quite a lot about marriage. She lived on the second floor and her husband was in the military. He was gone a lot and when he came home they closed the door and were recluses for several days.  And then there was the Jehovah Witness who lived in the room off of one of the kitchens. (It was tiny, filled mostly by a bathtub, which is why he rented it.)

The Jehovah Witness’s personality had too easily merged with his faith viewpoint. He sat in the kitchen one morning laughing at an article in the newspaper. He told me it was about some nuns, in the Congo, who had been raped in one of the uprisings in that troubled country. Knowing that JW’s would not fight in wars I thought they were pacifists and didn’t understand his callousness.

Another fellow roomer was a neo-Nazi who hated Christianity and didn’t particularly like women. He would stand on the steps, sometimes leading upstairs or too often the ones that led downstairs when I lived in the basement. He would rant about various subjects as he stood there. Most of the other roomers were undeclared as far as worldviews were concerned. They were secular and in some cases amoral.
This is all leading to several comments about heresy and the personalities infected by heresy. They are a marriage—sometimes heresy happens because of flawed personalities but on the other hand most people who inhabit various Christian heresies are often very nice people who nonetheless have become entangled in false teaching. I have often been surprised that some Christians believe that anyone involved in heresy is by nature a scoundrel.  It is true that false teaching can affect the way believers see the world and react to those around them, but the heart of the problem is how heresy affects the earthly and eternal wellbeing of the Church and the individual believer.

This will be a series of posts in which I will write about the definition of Christian heresy and why the Church must work to refute and overturn false teaching.
To help the reader understand where I am going with this series I should note that my last posting “The movie I AM: Where is Jesus?” about a movie shown to Christian youth at a denominational gathering is about a movie that was not heresy while those who chose to show it without any warning except, ‘you might disagree with some of this,’ were themselves acting in a heretical way. Probably unintentionally. The movie was not heretical because it never claimed to be Christian. The leaders showing it were acting in a heretical manner because they claimed to be Christian but were offering a different religious worldview without explaining the differences.

The Mormon lady and the Jehovah Witness I wrote about above are involved in Christian heresy, the neo-Nazi, the racist French girl and the secular persons involved in my  scenario are simply non-believers. Sinners who need redemption as we all do, but nonetheless not, as far as I know, claiming Christianity as their faith.
I have named two religious groups when speaking of heresy that are not considered Christian groups by orthodox Christianity although they call themselves Christian. But there are too many in the mainline denominations who are also involved in heresy. That is my main topic. For discussion I am placing a video by a Teaching Elder in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) below. This is a talk given by Jud Hendrix.* It is heretical and I will be returning to the video several times as I write my series.

* I have just received information that Hendrix was removed from the ordered ministry on June 17, 2013, about five weeks ago. The reason is not published.

Epiphany Jud Hendricks from Human Kind on Vimeo.


Presbyman said...


Funny thing is, from what I know of Mormon teachings, and the way Mormons understand their faith, they seem significantly less heretical than what we tolerate or even celebrate in mainline Protestant churches. What does it say about us that such is the case?

John Erthein
DeFuniak Springs, FL

Viola Larson said...

That is a good question John. And that is one of my points, the Mormon teaching is in many cases no more heretical than some of the false doctrine taught in the denomination.

Dennis Evans said...

He's not a Christian and he has no business being a teaching elder in the church. The difference between being "the image of God" and "the manifestation of God" is enormous. It is also true that there are all kinds of other heresies, from Unitarianism to who knows what in the Church. My pastor in the 1960's didn't believe in the divinity of Christ, or the virgin birth, or the cross as atonement, or the resurrection. Jesus was nothing more than one who stood up for right on the basis of a startling advance in spiritual insight. And we should all aspire to be like him! That minister was not unrepresentative of the Presbyterian church, and a church like that could be capable of anything. I knew that 40 years ago.

Viola Larson said...

Dennis, I agree with all you say. But I think one of our problems is that many are not listening to what the pastor/leader is saying or they don't understand. He/she just seem like nice people, which in most cases they are, so no one cares about the message.