Heretic, Theretice, Everywhere a tic tic


(I know I already used that heading with the puking cat, but hey, if it works!)

Since Agathos said something about the Pastor Scotts being a heretic, I decided to look it up.

It coincides nicely with the apologetics class I’m attending this week.


her·e·tic /n. Pronunciation Key – Spelled Pronunciation[n. her-i-tik; adj. her-i-tik, huh-ret-ik] Pronunciation Key – IPA Pronunciation
1. a professed believer who maintains religious opinions contrary to those accepted by his or her church or rejects doctrines prescribed by that church.
2. Roman Catholic Church. a baptized Roman Catholic who willfully and persistently rejects any article of faith.
3. anyone who does not conform to an established attitude, doctrine, or principle.

I guess I would like to have a list of ‘essential doctrines’ to glean from.

Orthodoxy vs. Heresy here

In Christianity, the term orthodoxy refers to “The body of essential biblical teachings. Those who embrace them should be accepted as Christians.” (Note 2)

The opposite of orthodoxy is heresy, “[d]octrine which is erroneous in such a way that Christians must divide themselves as a church from all who teach or accept it; those adhering to heresy are assumed to be lost, although Christians are unable to make definitive judgments on this matter.” (Note 3)

Individuals who – while claiming to be Christians – reject one of more central doctrines of the Christian faith are considered heretics.

Groups which reject one of more essential doctrines while claiming to represent Christianity, are considered – theologically – cults of Christianity (Note the difference between theological and sociological definitions of the term ‘cult.’)

It seems that if someone doesn’t conform to an established attitude or doctrine than they should just go to another one.

But, now, as I’m thinking about it, back in the day, there wasn’t another doctrine to go to, it WAS the one and only Catholic church.

I guess we americans just don’t fully understand the gravity of heresy from the early chuch standpoint. We’re free to worship whomever we please.


Heresy: beliefs that are forbidden by the policy-deciding body of a faith group. Heresy is a relative term, because one group’s heresy is frequently another group’s required belief or dogma, and vice-versa. Consider, for example, the criteria for salvation as taught by three Christian groups: the Roman Catholic Church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), and Fundamentalist protestants. One group’s required belief may also be the same group’s condemned past heresy (and vice-versa). Heresies are inevitable in religion because there does not appear to be any mechanism by which religious disagreements can be resolved — either through reason or by assessing the will of God.
Heresiologist: An individual who studies heresies.
Heresiology: The study of heresies.
Heretic: a person who believes in one or more heresies.

So basically, I’m a mormon heretic and a catholic heretic?

Because I don’t believe in their man-made doctrines?

From Medievalwriting

heretic : person who has expressed formal denial or doubt of any defined doctrine of the church

but this would be the catholic church, correct?

I knew the would have tons to say about it, but its too long to include here.

Strong’s Number: 141 aiºretiko/v
Original Word Word Origin
aiºretiko/v from the same as (140)
Parts of Speech TDNT
Adjective 1:184,27
1. fitted or able to take or choose a thing
2. schismatic, factious, a follower of a false doctrine
3. heretic

The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

her’-e-tik, her’-e-tik, he-ret’-i-kal (hairetikos):

Used in Titus 3:10, must be interpreted according to the sense in which Paul employs the word “heresy” (1 Corinthians 11:19; Galatians 5:20) for “parties” or “factions.” According to this, the Scriptural meaning of the word is no more than “a factious man” (American Standard Revised Version), an agitator who creates divisions and makes parties. Weizsacker translates it into German ein Sektierer, “a sectarist.” The nature of the offense is described in other words in 2 Thessalonians 2:6,11.

Titus 3:10 – Reject a factious man after a first and second warning,
Book of 1 Corinthians
Chapter 11:19 –
For there must also be factions among you, so that those who are approved may become evident among you.

Book of Galatians
Chapter 5:20 –
idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions,

Book of 2 Thessalonians
Chapter 2:6 – And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he will be revealed.
2:11 -For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, 12 in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness.

From Britannica

Doctrine rejected as false by religious authorities. In Christianity, the orthodox theology of the church is thought to be based on divine revelation, and heretics are viewed as perversely rejecting the guidance of the church.Numerous Christian heresies appeared from the 2nd century onwards. Early heresies included Arianism, the Monophysite heresy, Pelagianism, and Donatism. Some heresies, such as Montanism, expressed faith in a new prophet who added to the body of Christian revelation.Some types of Gnosticism were heretical branches of Christianity. The major means of combating heretics in the early church was excommunication. In the 12th – 13th century, the Inquisition was established to combat heresy, and heretics who refused to recant were often executed.In the 16th century the Protestant Reformation brought an end to the doctrinal unity of Western Christendom, and the concept of heresy became less important in the various Christian churches, though it continues to exist. The concept of heresy also exists in Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam.


heresy, in religion, especially in Christianity, beliefs or views held by a member of a church that contradict its orthodoxy, or core doctrines.

It is distinguished from apostasy , which is a complete abandonment of faith that makes the apostate a deserter, or former member.

Heresy is also distinguished from schism , which is a splitting of or from the church brought about by disputes over hierarchy or discipline, rather than over matters of doctrine.

So what is it if a church body splits because of doctrine?

The heretic considers himself or herself not only a church member but, in a doctrinal controversy, the true believer; indeed, some persons originally labeled heretical were rehabilitated after once abhorred views become accepted.
The battle for doctrinal control of Christianity began with the declarations of St. Paul in the New Testament. In the religion’s first three centuries, numerous sects, many arising from Gnosticism, were in conflict. The first Council of Nicaea (A.D. 325), which addressed the challenge of Arianism, was among convocations at which a Christian orthodoxy was established.

Excommunication was the usual method of dealing with heretical individuals or small groups. The medieval church undertook military action (as against the Albigenses, in 1208) and extensive legal and punitive campaigns (such as the Inquisition) in striving to suppress large-scale heresy.

The Protestant Reformation created new churches that at first campaigned against heresy from their own doctrinal bases; over time, however, the Roman Catholic church has remained the only Christian body that has continued with any frequency, on the basis of canon law, to prosecute heretics.

So, still today, the catholic church will prosecute heretics?

 Also, the thing with Calvin helping to indict a heretic see here probably needs to be re-looked at. I would need some more info. on that.

And last but not least, and too long to put on here,

Marcion: Portrait of a Heretic

So, to sum things up here;

Wow, don’t know how to sum things up. Another word that meant something in the past.

A word that has lost its meaning in the Unitied States where the freedom to believer whatever god they fancy.

A word that is just a matter of opinion. To Agathos, the pastor Scott’s are heretics, to the people who believe the same things as them, they are not heretics.

I am a heretic to the Catholic church, and quite glad of it.

Please, comments, pertaining to post content, of course. You know who you are! 🙂

Blessings, Kristina

(see scripture above)

18 responses »

  1. Your post reveals one very important thing about the word heretic: it has definitely lost its usefulness. Often nowadays the word is used as a put down so that the declarer of the title does not have to listen to anything the other person has to say. They could be right on 99 things but as long as they are labeled “heretic”, they do not need to be listened to. It’s kind of like sweeping the other persons chess pieces off of the board before the game even begins.

    I should have used a different word in describing the Scotts, as I was being light hearted more than anything. My main point was that Dr. Gene was much more interesting, ORIGINAL, and intelligent than his wife. I must admit that I do not know where they stand in relation to the seven ecumenical councils.

    BTW I think the councils and the term orthodox has more to do with the Eastern Orthodox Church than the Catholic Church (though they would definitely support the first five), especially, council seven which is about the use of icons in worship.

    You make some excellent points… I don’t believe in double pre-destination which would make me heretical to a certain Christian group. Which identifies another huge issue, that being, when we start to identify our salvation and our faith only with what we believe. Like getting into heaven is a final exam in which we must get ALL the answers perfect or burn. Salvation and faith are more than intellectual believism.

    Good Questions!

    Be Good,


  2. Pingback: Why You Should Stop Going to Church « Whore Church

  3. I think much is made out of trying to understand the Bible. Scholars who often lack character but are strong on exegesis create all sorts of non-Biblical terms to define Biblical things, create litmus tests of faith and are quick to remove anyone who disagrees with their narrow thinking.

    If I want to be more in love with my redhead I could read her love letters to me, study her autobiography in minute detail and write songs about her. Or I could spend time with her.

    No book, even the Bible, will ever be a substitute for real experience with God. And it is possible, even in the 21st century, to have personal experience with God.

  4. double predestination
    7 ecumenical councils

    For those of us who don’t know what this stuff is…
    so if a jew believes in jesus…heretic?

    if a catholic believes against the sacraments for salvation..heretic?

    If a christian doesn’t believe in the essential doctrines…

    heretic….or what? pagen, heathen, JW, mormon, atheist, agnostic.

    really, all these isms and ists just confuse me.
    Why can’t I study the bible, go to church, love my neighbor, rely on My Lord, have faith in the God and Lord of the bible.
    What kind of -ist am I?
    Kevin, am i just not getting it, how do i spend time with God?
    How do i have a personal experience with God, if I don’t know Him, if I don’t know his Word? I can’t very well meet him at starbucks for a frap?
    i study his word, do his will (for the most part) i take care of his own, i pray to him, talk to him, have faith (i feel it and know it, i live it) that he exists and his son came and died for me. my life shows that.
    I don’t want a label or title or ist, i just want to be a follower of Christ.
    I also need to ask you some questions about your not going to church post, but i must compose my thoughts first.
    talk at ya later about it.

  5. I’ve started writing a post about my own experience with God. It may be helpful, it may not be.

    Feel free to give me insights on going to an auditorium referred to as church. I don’t mean that as a slam, I just want to be clear. I would really like to hear your insights.

  6. Awesome post — in fact, one that i have to digest and revisit (that means juicy fruit good).

    One pause, though — there have always been multiple options to Catholicism. (even during the days where they’d scalp you and burn you at the stake)

    But it’s good to know I’m safe from being considered a heretic in the literal sense (since my churchy has been bad). And their deeds don’t equate to an abandonment of my faith, therefore leasing enough healthy rope that it’s far too long to hang myself with.

    Organized religious semantics and faith don’t jive too well.

    Again, good stuff.

  7. I do think that your observation that heresy as a term has lost its meaning in our American context can make some people very uneasy and others celebrate. I am in the celebrating camp, but this is because I have been unable to fill in the checklist on too many people’s essentials of faith form. I really enjoyed reading your post and I think it would do me well to read it again.

    Just one minor question. Wouldn’t apostacy be the opposite of orthodoxy and not heresy. Having been called both I was always under the impression that someone was really saying I was evil when they said I was apostate.

  8. POD, shouldn’t you be writing a sermon?

    Anyway, interesting comment. I think part of the problem identifying heresy is using a “profession” model of salvation, rather than simply letting time and fruit become the measure.

    And that measure would be one mainly for who you want to hang around with and talk about faith, not to determine who is apostate. Are there times when we should talk to our brothers and sisters about sin in their lives? Rarely, though it is necessary. If I have loved someone for years and then they walk (or run) into sin, the love that I have demonstrated for them over time would allow me to compassionately restore them.

    My 2 cents.

  9. Yes, I am avoiding a Palm Sunday sermon, but you have given me such valuable advice about how to get out of a boring sermon. It looks like tomorrow might be a good opportunity. I think that I agree with you. That is if we have the same definition of “profession” model of salvation.

    It is interesting that you address the idea of talking “to our brothers and sisters about sin in their lives[.]” A study of the word discipline in a North American context might find that its meaning had changed radically since the earliest followers. I like the sensitivity in which you approach the issue. It was just a thought since we are talking about how religious terms change over time.

  10. POD,

    About once a year you can get away with this:

    Pick a scripture. The more obscure the better. When you start your sermon simply read the scripture than say something like: “This scripture is so powerful and clear I can’t add anything to it.”

    Then tell them to each take 2 minutes to search their hearts, meditate on the scripture then, without speaking, file out.

    You appear deep while they individually are too embarrassed to ask what it means because they assume everyone else gets it.

    I call it “The Emporer’s New Clothes Sermon”

  11. ok, back on task you 2.
    heresy is claiming to be a christian while not holding to some of the essential doctrines, apostasy is the claiming of used to be a christian, now falling away or leaving the established christian religion. its a matter of time and actions, like kevin said.
    *thats a personal definition, tho. not scientific.

    Kevins comment:
    ”I think much is made out of trying to understand the Bible. Scholars who often lack character but are strong on exegesis create all sorts of non-Biblical terms to define Biblical things, create litmus tests of faith and are quick to remove anyone who disagrees with their narrow thinking.”
    kristinas comment: i think more should made of understanding the bible, but in a right way, understanding even the nuisances of it, the types of work, poetry, songs, wisdom, etc, helps much toward the understanding of God word for our lives. even dabbling in the hebrew and greek forms of words in the bible help tremendously.
    too many people don’t really want to take the time to truly study the Word, and therefore cannot rightly live by the Word.
    thanks for the comments, guys 🙂

  12. Yet, it seems to me that both definitions of heretic and apostate are often formed from the perspective of the one inside a particular tradition. Sometimes the use of these terms have been used by one who seeks legitimize or consolidate their orthodoxy apologetically by being over and against the outsider. It appears that only in recent time have some outsiders embraced the term heretic and tried to transform it into something positive.

    Even in what became accepted as the Canon there appears to be a disagreement over who was to be an insider and what was required for inclusion (ie the Jerusalem Council as reported in Acts as opposed to its reporting by Paul in Galatians).

    I have really enjoyed this discussion.

  13. Pingback: 'course he's a heretic :: he juggles Cats ferchrissake « j u g g l i n g C a t s

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