Some Christians throw the word “heresy” around with reckless
abandon. It appears in heated conversations over coffee. The word is used each time a revival takes
place that confronts and shakes the existing religious establishment. It is
used in the script of social media and it most dangerously lingers undefined in
the back of people’s minds. What makes the use of this word so reckless is when
we use it to define preferences and experiences outside our current understanding
or comfort boundaries.
I have limited my definition of heresy to the statement made
by Jesus in John 14:6, “I am the way, the
truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” Over
the years, I have found it has become too easy for me, and others, to widen the
heresy net beyond the words of Jesus to entrap fellow believers with whom I
disagree on lesser issues of preference and style.
Recently, I overheard a conversation where the word heresy was
used in reference to someone who is a healing evangelist. They didn’t like this
person’s style and felt he was a “heretic”. Later in the day I went on the
evangelist’s website and found out he also believes Jesus is the only way to
the Father – just like Jesus said in John 14.
In fact, the rest of his statement of faith was very similar to the one used
by my own church affiliation.
A few years ago one of my articles was posted on a prophetic
website. Shortly thereafter I was put on a “watch list” of potential
heretics. Reading down their list of
100’s of other “heretics”, I found names listed like Billy Graham, Jack
Hayford and Rick Warren. I was
honored to be named among such an esteemed crowd, but left that website
scratching my head.
Be careful with anything you read that takes the liberty to
call anyone a heretic. Be very careful
what you actually define as heresy. Keep
it simple and you won’t get confused. I had to come to the place where John
14:6 has become my personal test for heresy.
Anything beyond that definition is too bound up in my own opinion and
preference to be trusted.