To reject a heretic is to disarm him of any credibility. The task of the Church is not only to neutralize the ideas and opinions of heretics, but also to enhance and edify orthodox beliefs. The unity of the Church across the centuries depends upon its ability to confront heresy and maintain the authority of Christ’s message at the same time. Too harsh a condemnation will result in people rooting for the underdog and taking up with heresy. Too much indifference and heresy will grow like a theological tumor on the body of Christ.
A person chooses to be heretical and accepts false teachings because of the power, esteem and assurance it gives him. The teachings of Christ are diminished and His sovereignty is questioned. A typical heretic will not be able to give Christ the proper respect and authority that He has. Christ’s sovereignty is denigrated by the heretic through not being able to express Christ’s absolute power of salvation. The heretic chooses to not believe that Christ is the Only Savior of the world, despite what the Bible reveals to us. Rather than accept the traditions of scripture and the historical authority of the Church, the heretic chooses to accept the false utterances of his teachers, or his own voice.
Heretics are therefore self-condemned because they individually choose to defy God’s Word and accept their own understanding. They allow the secular culture to mold their views and will not accept the unchangeable truths of the Gospel values. Heretics contend with the church and advocate on behalf of the world. They have forgotten once again that the Church is not empowered by their wishes, beliefs or ideas. The Church is established and rooted in the total word of God.
Our example comes from the words of the first disciples and apostles of the Church. They chose to simply accept Christ’s words and ways. Their devotion to Him after the resurrection was absolute. Their words are witnesses to who Christ was and what He still is today. Heretics put themselves above the witness of the disciples. They believe that their own life experiences are more relevant to their beliefs today. They refuse to accept the simple truth – that the first apostles expressed an absolute confidence in the message of the Gospel and pledged their total allegiance to Jesus Christ.
Any gospel which is contrary to the true Gospel is heresy. Religious Universalism, prosperity gospel, divine entitlement and pluralistic salvation are common heresies in the Church today. And remember, heresy exists in the Church, not outside of it!
The purpose of the Holy Spirit is to reveal to us the truth of Christ’s Gospel. When we spurn the Living Words of Christ and denigrate His sovereignty, we oppose the work of the Holy Spirit. Thus heresy is a direct confrontation with God. The Bride of Christ needs to appear before Christ as worthy and unblemished. The rooting out of heresy has to come from within the Church.