Journal of Heresies

My search for truth in a world of deceit.

Location: United States

I have what is probably an insatiable desire to search out the answers to what may be impossible questions.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Is the Trinity Monotheistic?

Yesterday while hunting interesting blogs to add to my blog links, I came across this excellent and very civil discussion on the doctrine of the Trinity and the nature of God. Participating in the discussion are a wide range of views even including an Orthodox Jewish professor of medieval Islam and a Buddhist! It is a very long discussion, but well worth the effort. This particular doctrine is one that I have spent quite a bit of time studying during the past several years. Please check it out here.

Monday, December 19, 2005

What is heresy?

It seems fitting in my "Journal of Heresies" that I should define "heresy" and it associations. According to my New American Webster Handy College Dictionary:

heresy - n. an unorthodox doctrine or opinion, especially in religion.

orthodox - adj. holding sound, generally accepted views, especially on religion. 2. approved; conventional

Therefore, in summary, heresy is either unsound, or generally unaccepted doctrine or opinion, especially in religion.

Etymologically however, orthodox comes from ortho=right/correct + dox=teaching, so the original meaning of orthodox was "correct teaching." Using the original definition, heresy is an incorrect or false teaching.

Ideally, the generally accepted doctrines would also be orthodox (in the old sense). Then, both the modern definition and the original would agree and the state of heresy would be obvious. However, when the generally accepted doctrines are incorrect, there arises something self-contradictory, a paradox (oh no! another dox!). The correct (orthodox) view is not the accepted approved (orthodox) view. Both views can be defined as heretical, yet rarely does either view define itself as such.

Whose heresies am I journalling? Mine? or someone elses? That will depend quite a lot on which side you agree with, and which definition you use.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

If THAT is unity, I'd rather be alone!


I heard someone speaking today about 1 John chapter 4. He took it as an opportunity to talk about love and unity within the church, and why he doesn't get into (avoids) certain topics. He said we should put aside our differences in doctrines for the sake of unity.

But, love isn't about the lack of conflict! Unity isn't about comprimise or concession! If a Jew, a Christian, a Muslim, a Buddhist and a Wiccan were all spending the day in one room, they might agree to stay quiet to survive the day, but there would hardly be any significant unity and certainly little love between them. Would any of them be enriched by this tentative peace? What a waste of time! They would spend the day hoping to be released from each other, and mentally cursing their plight.

The sons of Israel loved their brothers, yet there were times they almost destroyed each other, literally. They would even lift the sword to their brothers' necks for the sake of righteousness, and YHVH rewarded them for it. There were times they came together as one man, united in purpose, but they did not at once have the same idea of how to accomplish it. Love and unity at the cost of righteousness and truth is worthless. Perhaps we should not be quick to thrust the sword, but we should not shrink from confrontation to preserve the image of a perfected church. We are not to forsake truth and call it love.

Let's say my child does something wrong. I could ignore the behavior, I could praise the behavior, or I could correct the behavior. Which option is the loving thing to do? The loving thing is to correct my child. Correcting my child is not painless for either of us. I might need to speak sternly, cause my child to cry and cause my child to feel badly about his/her actions; I might expect him/her to fix to their best ability whatever injury he/she caused. Love is sometimes stressful, painful, difficult and confrontational. To avoid and discourage all confrontation is to restrain love.

Finally, when no one feels free to express their inner thoughts, then there is no intimacy, no brotherhood. So also, when we corrupt truth to gain support, we become estranged from our Father so that we are orphans without family. Psalm 133 says: "Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity." To have unity we must have the same Father and we must love with a real love not some counterfeit image.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Island Believers

Let's say that one day a airplane lost its cargo of Bibles while flying over an island where the people had never experienced or heard of the rest of the world. (and by some miracle they all spoke and read the language in which the Bibles were written). Most of the people after reading the Bibles say to themselves and each other: "This book contains truth by which we should live! We will serve YHVH!" What would the practice of their faith look like? Would they build structures with steeply pointed roofs, long benches to sit on, wooden alter tables, and crosses? Would they gather on Sundays, Christmas, Easter and celebrating with ham, bunnies, eggs, and decorated trees? All these practices and many others that prevail in our churches would be completely absent. If some of these island believers were to cast out to sea (perhaps in search of the rest of YHVH's people) and land in a "Christian" country, they would not recognize Christianity as a religion based on scripture.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Stained Glass

As a child (~7 yrs old), I was upset when my parents decided to stop going to church. For some reason I thought that church was a requirement for all Christians, that not going was akin to rejecting God, and besides... I liked the singing and the crafts, the classes and even the sermons. Since they weren't going to go to church, and I couldn't persuade them to change their mind, I even tried to hold our own church service one Sunday. It all made perfect sense the night before, the message and scripture were quite clear. Yet, when they sat down to hear my sermon, I had forgotten it all. Its probably a good thing I had forgotten it, perhaps the Holy Spirit took it and tossed it in file 13 during the night to restrain my mouth from sin. As it was, I simply looked like a sweet but foolish child rather than a disrespectful one twisting scripture to my own message. Now, my appreciation for my parents decision grows every day. Had we remained in church, I doubt that I would ever have been able to see beyond the stained glass.

Yet for all those years of separation from the church, I still believed that church is where one went to learn about God. So when nearly an adult, a couple years after I understood and accepted the grace of God, I began to go to church with the man who is now my husband. I was an eager learner, and again... loved the singing, classes, sermons, and now a youth group too. I began to consider membership. But, I thought I ought to know a little more about what I would be committing to before taking such a step. These thoughts prompted me to call the pastor. I asked him "What do you believe?" I thought this would be a good start... the basics.

I think he thought I was introuble! He asked me "What do I believe about what? Abortion? Drugs? Sex?"

"No, what do you believe about God, the Bible? What do you BELIEVE?"

He referred me to the church manual, in his words, a large book containing everything that the denomination believed; he never told me what he believed. Besides being quite disappointed, I was also quite troubled. Why couldn't a man who had long been a Christian, called to ministry, why couldn't he tell me what he believed? How could I become a member of a church where a pastor couldn't tell me what he believed? I began to doubt the authority of the church, and to question this idea of membership. Wasn't I already a member of the body of Christ? Why did I need some church to put it in their records?

Since then I've had several pastors ask me to consider membership, and not one has given me a sound Biblical reason for doing so. The last one to discuss it with me ended her argument: "What kind of message do you think it (not being a member) sends to the rest of the congregation? How would they feel?"

At the time, I was the editor of the church newsletter, the youth leader, a participant in several committees, even a lay speaker within our congregation (although technically, I wasn't allowed to because I wasn't a member). I was intimately involved with the work of the church. I did not hide the fact that I was not member by the standards of the denomination, nor did I flaunt it. If anyone asked, I simply stated I was a member of the Kingdom, and the church's idea of "membership" was unfounded. No one minded, except pastors.

In truth, the church membership log has nothing to do with God's membership log; the title pastor has nothing to do with their qualifications to be called such; and, the church isn't where we learn about God. We learn about God by living, by interacting with Him, by knowing His Son, by seeking His Word; by going beyond the stained glass, beyond the proper church behavior, beyond the proper rote answer, beyond the traditions of men. Church and its trappings have nothing to do with a right walk with God.