For centuries the term “heresy” has been thrown around with hatred as slander and “orthodox” has been claimed with the utmost pride. But what is heresy and orthodoxy? Who is orthodox and who are heretics? Join us in this teaching as we learn the truth about heresy and orthodoxy. Join us as we learn the God Honest Truth.
This teaching is about heresy and orthodoxy. It’s important to seek knowledge and understanding. Different people may interpret things differently, but that doesn’t mean they’re wrong. Some terms to know are infidel, apostate, orthodoxy, heresy, and anathema. Heresy is a belief that contradicts orthodoxy. Catholics have a specific definition of heresy, while Judaism has no clear definition. Heresy is subjective and based on church dogma. In the past, heresy meant choosing a philosophical sect or examining different philosophies.
Like I said, this teaching is going to be all about heresy and orthodoxy. Now if you’ve never heard about this before, let us know that down in the comments below too because we’d love to make sure that you understand this subject and you get something out of it and you’re further educated in your walk with Yahweh and the Word. As always, if you happen to miss this, miss any part of it, you can always check us out starting tomorrow sometime.
We’re going to get that edited and uploaded for you. The easiest way to look at this, even right now as you’re watching it, is go down below in the description for this video, click on the link, and that’ll take you directly to the post for this drash on godhonesttruth.com. On that post, you’ll have not only the video, but you’ll also have these drash slides that you’re seeing right here, and you will additionally have a transcript once that’s available and the notes we took on this subject as well, all right there in one place.
Go check that out. You can go to godhonesttruth.com and click on the post directly or click on the link down below in the description whether you’re watching on a video platform or listening on an audio platform. The link is there all the same. Now John Milton quoted one time, where there is much desire to learn, there of necessity will be much arguing, much writing, many opinions, for opinion in good men is but knowledge in the making.
And that’s so true. When we all want to learn, we all want to be educated and be wiser, et cetera, et cetera, we come across different pieces of evidence and facts in different contexts and we understand them differently, but we’re all trying to learn and further ourselves, right? So there’s going to be some disagreements and different ways of seeing things, but that’s not a cause for hostility, as it were. Proverbs chapter 4 verse 7 reads, the beginning of wisdom is get wisdom, and with all your getting, get understanding.
So scripture even tells us to further ourselves, get wisdom, get understanding, get education, get some knowledge, right? Proverbs 15, 14 goes on to state, the heart of the understanding one seeks knowledge, but the mouth of fools feeds on folly. And finally, Proverbs 18, 15 says, the heart of the understanding one gets knowledge, and the ear otherwise seeks knowledge. So what does this all have to do with heresy and orthodoxy? Well, like we started out saying, when you’re going by scripture, or even going by your own desire to get knowledge and understanding and education, you will come across stuff in a certain context and understand stuff in a certain way.
So when you do that, other people are also going to do that as well. There’s going to be a different way of seeing things at various times. Now, this doesn’t mean that we should go around bashing each other because of that. So this is what all this is leading up to about understanding and the way people interpret things and see things and how it can be different, and just because it’s different doesn’t make it wrong. Sometimes it is wrong.
However, sometimes it means you’re wrong and they’re right. So you’ve got to kind of weigh it and study it and go back to scripture and the word. Now some terms we’re going to be using tonight in tonight’s drash, well, I’m sorry, first let me back up. Let’s go to the outline for tonight’s drash. There we go. First things first here. First of all, we’re going to define some terms. Then we’re going to put it all together and kind of get a overall view of it.
Then we’re going to go over what heresy and Judaism looks like, what heresy and Catholicism kind of looks like, heresy and Protestantism looks like, and then how to deal with it all. I mean, how does it all come together and how do we deal with it in our own lives? Defining terms. Some of these terms that we’re going to be using tonight are important to know so that you know what we’re talking about when we do use these terms.
Number one, the term infidel. This refers to someone who is not of the faith, an unbeliever. This is something that really doesn’t relate to heresy and orthodoxy as you’ll see as we go along. This is something to kind of know about and understand. Apostate. Apostate is someone who was in the faith but then left the faith. A famous modern example would be Bart Erhman. He used to be a Christian and then he left the faith and became an agnostic atheist, I think is what he calls himself.
He is someone that we would refer to as apostate. Now we’ll get into the meat of it. The word orthodox or orthodoxy. This is a term or a phrase referring to pretty much the right opinion or the correct opinion, the correct way of thinking and that in and of itself is an opinion but we’ll get into all that. The word heretic or heresy. Now this word has changed over the years that we’ll go into when we get to this word but as we use it nowadays it means something like wrong doctrine, wrong opinion or the wrong way of thinking.
And finally the word anathema. This is going to be used a lot especially when we get into the section on Catholicism. There’s some scripture but mostly in the section on Catholicism. But what anathema means is just cursed, right? When someone or some group anathematizes you they are cursing you or whatever that’s worth that’s what anathema means. So orthodoxy. Orthodoxy is a word that comes from the Greek word orthodoxos and this comes from the Greek ortho meaning correct or the I’m sorry and the word doxa meaning opinion.
So put them together right opinion, right way of thinking. It’s also used modernly to describe correct doctrine. Not just right think but right doctrine. Correct think and correct doctrine. That’s what it is. Correct opinion. That’s what orthodox or orthodoxy means. Now its adverse, its opposite is the word heresy and heresy is pretty much the opposite of orthodoxy. One definition I found from a gentleman called Matt Slick over at CARM.org and he writes Heresy is false teaching.
It is a belief or idea that is in contradiction to orthodoxy. In the context of Christianity heresy is that which deviates from standard biblical teaching. So that’s the modern understanding of what heresy is. It’s the opposite of orthodoxy. And people like Matt Slick they consider it a contradiction to orthodoxy. But you’ll notice the statement he gave there. That definition is all subjective. It’s opinion based. Okay. Who gets to define what orthodoxy is and by extension who’s going to be able to define what heresy is? Well we’re going to learn more about that as we go through to the drash.
According to Catholicism, heresy is defined pretty much from what they wrote here in Canon 751 in the Code of Canon Law. Catholics define heresy as, heresy is the obstinate denial or obstinate doubt after the reception of baptism of some truth which is to be believed by divine and Catholic faith. Heresy is the total repudiation of the Christian faith. Schism is the refusal of submission to the supreme pontiff, Pope, or of communion with the members of the church subject to him.
So this gets much more specific with Catholics here. According to the Catholic definition of heresy, heresy is something that is only within Catholics or Catholicism. You have to at first then baptize as a Catholic. Only then would you ever be able to be called a heretic. So it’s a contradiction for a Catholic to call someone else a heretic who’s not a Catholic. Kind of makes sense. However, everyone and every group even outside of Catholicism uses the word heresy.
For instance, even in Judaism, the word heresy and heretic is still used. However, according to the Jewish Virtual Library, they state, heresy, belief in ideas contrary to those advocated by religious authorities. Because Judaism has no one official formulation of dogma against which heresy can be defined, it has no clear-cut definition of heresy. So here they’re stating that Judaism can’t even define what heresy is because there’s no clear-cut written down definition of standard dogma within Judaism, sort of like what the Catholics have with all their councils and the canons and decrees that come out of the councils and the bulls from the Pope and papal decrees and all that.
Judaism doesn’t have stuff like that to go against, right? There is no Pope of Judaism, as it were. So yeah, sometimes it can be difficult within Judaism to define heresy, but that word still gets used within Judaism as we’ll see when we go through the section on Judaism and heresy. Moving on, Merriam-Webster defines heresy as adherence to a religious opinion contrary to church dogma. Notice there it’s the church dogma. Or goes on to say, denial of a revealed truth by a baptized member of the Roman Catholic Church, right? We just went over that in the Code of Canon Law from Catholicism.
See an opinion or doctrine contrary to church dogma. So you can see here that heresy and orthodoxy are two sides of the same coin. Say for instance, you have a particular doctrine, I’m sorry, a particular subject, right? One person believes a certain way about the subject. Another person believes a different way about the subject. One of them is going to consider the other one to be a heretic, right? They’re both going to consider themselves to be orthodox and the other a heretic.
It’s so, yeah, let’s move on. However, this whole word heresy did not mean what it always means today. Back in the day or when we’re towards the beginning of its usage, it actually had a very different meaning and it’s actually used differently in scripture, oddly enough. But anyways, the Greek word heresis or taking or choosing for oneself a choice, a means of taking, a deliberate, planned purpose, philosophical sect or school. That’s from Etymonline. And then from liquidsearch.com, the term heresy is from Greek heresis, originally meant choice, but also refer to that process whereby a young person will examine various philosophies to determine how to live one’s life.
So originally, heresy or heresis meant a choice and that’s it. This choice, that choice, the other choice, it just meant choice. It can also refer to a sect, like a denomination, if you will, because you chose to go with that sect, you made that choice and that choice is heresis, right? That’s what heresy originally meant. Now we find that in scripture as Strong’s G139. For you nerds like me, here is your Strong’s definition and Greek English lexicon definition and they’re pretty much defining it just how we read it from the original, meaning a choice or a sect, right? Now the Greek English lexicon goes on to include the modern definition as well, stating the content of teaching which is not true, false teaching, untrue doctrine, heresy.
So they include the modern understanding also, which is why it’s kind of important to go with or go into multiple dictionaries and lexicons to get a fuller and broader understanding of these terms sometimes. But here’s your, there’s Greek lexicon for Strong’s G139, heresis, and here it’s kind of going along with the Strong’s definition, meaning something like choice, something that is chosen. And here is your Liddell Scott Jones definition. And of course you can find all of these in our notes that we took and provided for you on GodHonestTruth.com or go down to the description below and click on the link for tonight’s post.
Now you find this word, heresis, Strong’s G139, in the following places in scripture. You find it used in Acts 517, Acts 15.5, Acts 24.5, Acts 24.14, Acts 26.5, Acts 28.22, 1 Corinthians 11.19, and Galatians 5.20 and 2 Peter 2.1. You find it used in all of these verses, however, different translations will translate that into different words. However, there are two that you can see here on which all the translations we have up here, the King James, Scriptures 2009, Tree of Life version, and the ESV, they all agree on translating it the same way in two of these verses, and that’s Acts 24.5 and 2 Peter 2.1.
Let’s look at Acts 24.5 real quick. Here is Acts 24.1 through 5. And after five days the high priest, Hananiah, came down with the elders and a certain speaker, Tertullus, and they brought charges against Sha’ul before the governor. And when he was called upon, Tertullus began to accuse him, saying, Having obtained great peace through you, and reforms being brought to this nation by your forethought, we accepted always and in all places most excellent Felix, with all thanks.
But in order not to hinder you any further, I beg you to hear us briefly in your gentleness, for having found this man a plague, who stirs up dissension among all the Yehudim throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes. Here is that Greek word, haresis, right? They’re saying that Sha’ul, or Paul, is the ringleader of this sect of the Nazarenes, or a ringleader of this heresy of the Nazarenes, right? You see how that works? That’s going to be very important later on in tonight’s drash.
Remembering here that, number one, the Jews considered the early Messianic or early Christians as heretics. And also that the early Christians, or the early Messianics, were referred to, one of the ways they were referred to, was as Nazarenes. Keep that in mind. Put that in your notes for later on. Now the second one that these four different translations all agree on was 2 Peter 2.1. Let’s look at that real quick. But there also came to be false prophets among the people, as also among you there shall be false teachers who shall secretly bring in destructive heresies and deny the master who bought them, bringing swift destruction on themselves.
And here, all four of those translations translate it as heresy instead of sect. But given the context, this would be appropriate because here Peter is writing about people who are bringing in false teachings, which would go in line with our modern understanding and modern definition of the word heresy. So either way, whether people are called or people are accused of a heresy justly or unjustly. Justly like the Jews were calling the Nazarenes a part of a heresy group.
Either way, this all leads back to the word heretic, which comes from the word heresy. But heretic is someone who is considered to believe and hold to a heresy. Mary.com defines heretic as a professed believer who maintains religious opinions contrary to those accepted by his or her church or rejects doctrines prescribed by that church. Roman Catholic Church, a baptized Roman Catholic who willfully and persistently rejects any article of faith. Or number three, anyone who does not conform to an established attitude, doctrine, or principle.
So yeah, basically a heretic is someone who subscribes to a heresy. Now let’s look at anathema just real quick. Anathema defined from dictionary.com, a person or thing detested or loathed, a person or thing accursed or consigned to damnation or destruction. A formal ecclesiastical curse involving excommunication. Number four, any imprecation of divine punishment, or number five, a curse, execration. So when someone’s anathematizing someone else, they’re assuming to have the ability to curse them to hell, right, in a sense.
But basically just to curse them. Now we do find anathema in scripture as well, and this is Strong’s G331. Strong’s defined it as excommunicated, banned, accused, anathema, cursed. Liddell Scott Jones defined it as anything dedicated, anything devoted to evil, and a cursed thing. Strong’s, I’m sorry, Thayer’s Greek lexicon, excuse me, goes along sort of lines of Strong’s and states properly a thing set up or laid by in order to be kept, specifically a votive offering. And the Septuagint is generally a translation of the Hebrew word, I’m sorry, I can’t see that, harem.
A thing devoted to God without hope of being redeemed, a curse, a man accursed, devoted to the direst woes, et cetera, et cetera. And of course all these we had to cut for the sake of space on the slide, but they are in the notes. Go check those out from the link below or on godhonesttruth.com. Now the Greek English lexicon entry for Strong’s G331 states that which has been cursed, cursed or a curse. So yeah, that’s what anathema means, to anathematize someone is to curse them.
Now the word anathema appears in Scripture in various verses. Some of those are Acts 23.14, Romans 9.3, 1 Corinthians 12.3, 1 Corinthians 16.22, Galatians 1.8, and Galatians 1.9. Now if you’ll look here on your screen for Acts 23.14, the Scriptures 2009, Tree of Life version and English Standard Version, or ESV, all translate this word as oath. Okay, well that’s kind of interesting, but the King James Version translates it as curse, right? That’s what we’ve been talking about all along.
So can it actually mean oath? Let’s look at it real quick. Acts 23.13-14, And those making this conspiracy were more than forty, who, having come to the chief priests and elders, said, We have bound ourselves under a great oath not to eat at all until we have killed Sha’ul. These people were seeking to kill Sha’ul, or Paul, and they took an oath to not eat at all until they had accomplished their mission of killing Sha’ul. It says, We have bound ourselves under a great oath not to eat at all.
Now the King James Translation reads, We have bound ourselves under a great curse that we will eat nothing. So in context, yes, this word anathema from the original Greek is better translated as oath instead of curse here in this one passage. However, let’s look at Galatians 1.8-9 real quick. It reads, However, even if we, or a messenger out of heaven, bring a good news to you besides what we have announced to you, let him be accursed, as we have said before, and now I say again, if anyone brings a good news to you besides what you have received, let him be accursed.
So here in this context, yeah, this is a proper and right way of translating this word anathema as accursed. Because here he’s saying, if anyone brings a different gospel to you, right, a different good news, let them be anathema, let them be cursed, let them be accursed, because they’re distorting and sullying the good news, the gospel that is real and actually exists, the one that the apostles brought to us. So that would be a, in context, as you can see here, clearly, it’s properly translated as accursed.
So now we’ve gone over our terms and we know what we’re talking about, right? So heresy is, in a nutshell, right-think, right-opinion, rather, correct-think or correct-opinion. Heresy means wrong-think or wrong-opinion. Anathema means curse or accursed, right? Could mean both, depending on the context, but generally, it’s going to be curse or accursed. And then, of course, heretic comes from the word heresy. A heretic is someone who subscribes to a heresy. So that works. So now we’ve got our definitions down, we’ll know what all this means as we go through the rest of the drash.
So how do we put all this together? What does it all mean? Well, Dr. Harold Brown writes, what we now call orthodoxy is a traditional understanding. Is it the correct one? The fact that heresy preceded orthodoxy and appears to have been suppressed and supplanted by it would seem to suggest the contrary. If not, it would be necessary to concede that the history of orthodoxy is the history of usurpation, as indeed many eminent scholars have argued and continue to argue.
So basically, what he’s saying here is that what we nowadays call the right or correct thinking, correct opinion on certain doctrines, orthodoxy, is simply just a traditional understanding, what we’ve come to know and get comfortable with. But it doesn’t necessarily mean that’s the way it always was. Because when you look back in church history, especially the early years, right, first, second, third, really the fourth, you start finding people with differing beliefs. And at one point in time, one belief was considered orthodoxy and another belief was considered heretical.
However, as time went on, there was different people who got in different places. And now what used to be considered heresy was considered orthodoxy, vice versa. What was considered orthodoxy was then considered heresy. And it’s, yeah, it’s, wow, if you, I’m a nerd, okay, so I enjoy going into historical stuff and learning about all this. If you can, I would invite you to do it as well. Learn about these things. The early conflicts that was going on, it’s really something to study out and learn about.
But yeah, some things that were considered orthodox were eventually in time flipped around and it was considered heresy. Some things that was considered heresy was eventually in time considered to be orthodoxy. Some people who at one time were considered great fathers and great men of the faith, later on they were deemed as heretics. And it’s nuts. I mean, you look at some of these things that happened in the early years and it’s, you start thinking of the Wild West, right? It’s really that kind of thing.
You get into origin and, oh my gosh. Anyways, we’ll get off that. That’s tangent that we will try not to get on tonight because that will take us down a road that will lead us till three in the morning. Moving on about heresy and orthodoxy, anyways, Alistair McGrath in his book, Heresy, and this is something he’s quoting from someone else. And he states, everyone knows that history is written by the winners. Orthodoxy is nothing more than a heresy that happened to win out and promptly tried to suppress its rivals and silence their voices.
This was a thesis developed by the German scholar, Walter Bauer, who argued that the earliest and most authentic form of Christian belief was probably heretical rather than orthodox. And yeah, history is written by the winners and those in power get to make the rules and those in power decide what is correct. They define this is the way to think. We are seeing that nowadays in our own society. It’s no different today. We see today the homosexuals and the transgenders and the woke people, they’re all coming together.
They’ve got handles on media and Hollywood and politicians to where you can’t say anything against them. Now, the orthodoxy that’s being determined for us is to support all these things that go against scripture. I mean, that’s our modern societal orthodoxy going on here, and it was going on back then as well. If any of you like reading, like I do, one book that really illustrates this point is a book called When Jesus Became God by Richard Rubenstein.
Now, this guy is a Jewish historian, and as far as doctrine goes, he’s got no dog in his fight, right? He’s presenting the historical facts, and it’s so captivating to read this book. I mean, you put yourself into the story that’s going on, and things actually happen. He’s relating historical events, and when you put yourself back into the story that’s going on here, you would think that it’s a modern thriller movie, right, or even a modern political scandal because it’s so similar to things that go on even nowadays.
But I’m getting off on a tangent again. Yeah, When Jesus Became God by Richard E. Rubenstein, you can get it. Go check it out. Read it. If you’re like me, you start reading it, and you won’t put it down as that captivating. Very good for historical understanding about the early fourth century and the beginnings of the Catholic Church. Anyways, back to heresy and orthodoxy, yeah, the things we know now as orthodoxy were most likely at one point in history considered heretical, and the things that we now consider heresy were likely to be at one point in history considered orthodoxy.
Take for instance, mainstream Christianity considers the first day of the week to be Sabbath, right? Well, as we all know, that was not always so. Because the early Christians, if you remember from our Sabbath drash, our Sabbath teaching, the very earliest Christians, the very earliest Messianics, were still keeping the seventh day Sabbath. Later on, it was changed. So it’s a point in case right there. So going on, Dr. Harold Brown writes again, it is impossible to document what we now call orthodoxy in the first two centuries of Christianity.
So if you look at what we now call orthodoxy, try to find it as orthodoxy in the first two centuries, you hear Dr. Brown saying that you can’t find it. It’s impossible to document it. We now call orthodoxy something that came later on. Again with Alistair McGrath in his book Heresy, he writes, the convening of the Council of Nicea by Constantine in 325 can be seen as the first step in the attempted creation of an essentially uniform imperial church whose doctrines would be publicly defined by creeds.
And he so writes, once that formation of the Roman Catholic Church got going, they defined what everyone had to believe to be orthodox, to have correct think, they defined it for everyone. And if you didn’t go along with what they declared, you were considered a heretic. And that’s the real beginning of the whole heresy and orthodoxy conflict, is that one group of people started defining what everyone was supposed to think, they started dictating what people had to believe, whether it was from scripture or not, they defined what people had to believe, they said this is orthodoxy, believe it or you’re a heretic, and there’s bad things that come with being declared a heretic, as we’ll see as we go on through tonight’s drash.
Let’s look at real quick at heresy and Judaism. Now remember when we read back in the scriptures, when they were going against Paul, they called him the ringleader of the heresy of the Nazarenes, right? So let’s look at another verse real quick, Acts 24, 12-16. And they neither found me in the set-apart place, disputing with anyone, nor stirring up the crowd, either in the congregations or in the city, nor are they able to prove the charges of which they now accuse me.
And this I confess to you, that according to the way which they call a sect, so I worship the Elohim of my fathers, believing all that has been written in the Torah and in the prophets, having an expectation in Elohim, which they themselves also wait for, that there is to be a resurrection of the dead, both of the righteous and the unrighteous. And in this exercise, I’m sorry, and in this I exercise myself to have a clear conscience toward Elohim and men always.
So here Paul’s writing that he’s being accused, I’m sorry, he’s relating that the Jews are considering him and his fellow believers, which he’s referring to as the way, instead of Nazarenes, but referring to the same thing, the Jews are referring to the followers of the way as a sect, as a heresy. So Jews were considering early Christians, early Messianics, as heretics. Keep that in mind, because remember, originally things that are called heresy is later called orthodoxy, some things are called orthodoxy or later called heresy, etc., etc.
However, anyone with eyes to see, ears to hear, an open mind, and a humble heart, will be able to see that following Messiah Yeshua and the Torah and all of scripture is the only way to go. That is the right way of thinking, the right opinion, the right doctrine. That is orthodoxy. Anyway, it’s heresy in Judaism from the Jewish Virtual Library. Because Judaism has no one official formulation of dogma against which heresy can be defined, it has no clear-cut definition of heresy.
A heretic may be distinguished from an apostate in that although he holds beliefs which are contrary to currently accepted doctrines, he does not renounce his religion and often believes that he represents the true tradition. So you can even hear they say that they don’t have an official formulation against which heresy can be defined, but then they go on to say that heretics do exist and they can be distinguished from an apostate. Remember, we defined those terms earlier.
Apostate is someone who leaves the faith. A heretic is someone that is still considered to be in the faith, but thinking incorrectly or believing incorrectly. Going on, Maimonides writes about heretics. The following have no share in the world to come, but are cut off and perish and receive their punishment for all time for their great sin, the minim. The five are called minim, and it lists a couple of them, and number three states, he who ascribes to the Lord of the universe a body and a figure.
Wonder who he was referring to there. So basically he’s defining heretics here, and one of the definitions he gives for who a heretic is, is he who ascribes to the Lord of the universe a body and a figure. Yep, can’t say for sure, but I would put money on it that he was referring here to Christians or Messianics. Jewish Virtual Library states that individuals, sects, and books were at various times declared heretical. The list includes Samaritans, Judeo-Christians, Karaites, Shabbatians, Frankists, Hasidim, and liberal branches of modern Judaism.
So even though earlier they tried to say that, you know, there’s no official dogma, so therefore we can’t really define heresy, yet they still use that word heresy and calling individuals, sects, and books heretical. Okay, if there’s nothing to define it against, then how can you declare they’re heretics or something that’s heretical? Anyways, if you haven’t caught on already, a lot of people throw around the word heretic as I disagree with you, but instead of saying I disagree with you, they just say heretic.
That’s basically what they mean is I disagree with you. It’s an opinion, right? Moving on. Heresy and Catholicism. This gets really, really interesting. In fact, the whole drash gets more interesting as we go on. But just to refresh your memory, going back to Acts 24, 5, for having found this man a plague who stirs up dissension among all the Yehudim throughout the world and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes, of the heresy of the Nazarenes.
So once again, early Christians, early Messianics were called Nazarenes and the Jews referred to them as heretics, a sect, a heresy. Keep that in mind. Like I said, it gets really interesting. Epiphanius in the 4th century writes in Panarion, all Christians were called Nazarenes once. They were so-called followers of the apostles. They dedicate themselves to the law. However, everyone called the Christians Nazarenes, as I said before. This appears from the accusation against Paul. We just read that verse, right? Acts 24, 5.
But it goes on to say, for they use not only the New Testament but also the Old, for they also accept the resurrection of the dead and that everything has origin in God. Only in this respect they differ from the Jews and Christians. With the Jews they do not agree because of their belief in Christ and the Christians because they are trained in the law, in circumcision, the Sabbath, and other things. The heresy of the Nazarenes exists in some places there where they live.
There the Nazarene heresy had its beginning. This is so backwards and paradoxical. He basically quotes and says that all Christians were originally called Nazarenes but then he ends up saying that Nazarenes are heretics. If you’re a Christian, how in the world can you say that Christians are heretics? That Christians have the wrong way of thinking? That just makes absolutely zero sense but it goes back to what heresy really means when people say it. Instead of Epiphanius saying those guys are heretics, rather what he’s saying is I disagree with those guys, right? Going on, Jerome in the 4th century writes, the believing Jews do well in observing the precepts of the law, keeping the Jewish Sabbath, there exists a sect among the synagogues of the east which is called the sect of Mini and is even now condemned by the Pharisees.
The adherents to this sect are known commonly as Nazarenes. They believe in Christ the Son of God, born of the Virgin Mary, and they say that he who suffered under Pontius Pilate and rose again is the same as the one in whom we believe, a most pestilential Pharisee. Okay? Apparently, St. Jerome says that people who believe Christ is the Son of God, that Christ is born of the Virgin Mary, that Christ suffered under Pontius Pilate, that Christ rose again is a heresy? I mean, that comes straight from scripture.
Oh my gosh. But again, just like Epiphanius, he’s not saying those guys are heretics, he’s saying I disagree with those guys because there’s other things there that he wants to believe that they don’t believe, so yeah, and it’s still going on today. You see it even today. Proverbs 18, 17. The first to state his case seems right until another comes and examines him. And this is the case with Catholicism. You know, for the longest time, there was just the church, right? I mean, there were still people out there in the wild, as it were, but far and above, there was just the church, and that was Catholicism.
So your first experience with learning scripture through most of the 2,000 years since Yeshua, your first experience with scripture would have been from Catholicism, and the first thing you learned, you would have thought was the right way of thinking, the right way of believing, the correct doctrine. But then you go on and you search and you question for yourself and you find out, nope, that’s not actually true. A lot of people have done that. Those of us who are now in the messianic way of thinking are in that same boat.
Me myself, I grew up in a Baptist church, so my first experience in learning about scripture was from a Baptist point of view, right? And this Baptist point of view stated many things that I came to believe and learn and trust in. And then I started questioning for myself, as Proverbs 18, 17 says, I started examining for myself and came to learn that some things just weren’t right. They just weren’t true. So scripture proves itself true, okay? Proverbs 18, 17 proves itself true and it has so many times over and over.
Word of Yahweh will amaze you. But going on, in the Council of Laodicea in year 363, when they do these councils, they come out with decrees and these are called canons, they’re written down as canons, right? So in Canon 29 of the Council of Laodicea, they write, Christians must not Judaize by resting on the Sabbath, but must work on that day, rather honoring the Lord’s day, and if they can, resting then as Christians, but if any shall be found to be Judaizers, let them be anathema from Christ.
So this is loaded, right? Number one, they’re accusing people who actually rest on Yahweh’s Sabbath, they’re calling them Judaizers, right? You don’t want to be like them old dirty Jews, right? Anti-Semitism was rife back then, believe it or not, and again, there’s a whole history behind that as well. But yeah, they were saying that people were Judaizing by just keeping Yahweh’s Shabbat. They go on to say that people must work on Yahweh’s Shabbat. The Roman Catholic Church is declaring and requiring people to work on Yahweh’s Shabbat.
Then they go on to say that instead, people should honor the Lord’s day, a.k.a. Sunday, a.k.a. first day of the week, saying, if they can, resting then. And this is, yeah, this would be heresy because it contradicts Scripture. In Scripture, Yahweh tells us to keep the seventh day, no other day. Keep the seventh day forever, a perpetual covenant with his people, right? The seventh day. And no working. It’s not a, well, maybe if you feel like it, no, none of that, it says no work on Shabbat.
Then the Catholics come along, assume they have the authority to rewrite Scripture, to overwrite Yahweh and do away with Yahweh’s Sabbath, which was forever, and tell people that they should rest on the first day of the week if they can, but they don’t have to. Wow, yeah. You see how Yahweh’s word, Yahweh’s Shabbat was originally the right way of thinking, right? It was the correct way of thinking. It was orthodoxy. And anything other than that would be considered heresy, right, going along with our subject terms tonight.
And then, in the fourth century AD, Catholic Church comes along and considers what was orthodoxy to be heresy and what was heresy to now be orthodoxy. See how that works? So, yeah, this is why you’ve got to get back to Scripture and not by church decrees, regardless of whatever church you go to. I don’t care if it’s Catholicism, Eastern Orthodox, Greek Orthodox, Methodist, Baptist, Episcopalian, Seventh-day Adventist, whatever. Learn for yourself from Scripture what the Scripture has to say about it, not what your church has to say about it.
Okay, let’s get off of that. Anyways, ooh, about to get on a ramp. So, going again to the Council of Laodicea in 363, in Canon 37 they state, it is not lawful to receive portions sent from the feasts of Jews or heretics, nor to feast together with them. So, here they’re saying that you’re not allowed to go feast or celebrate or do anything with our Jewish brothers. Again, that whole kind of anti-Semitism air going on back then.
You can’t receive anything from them, and you can’t go eat with them, none of that’s allowed according to Catholicism. Canon 38, it is not lawful to receive unleavened bread from the Jews, nor to be partakers of their impiety. Then, they go on in Canon 44 and declare that women may not go to the altar. This was decided on and declared to be orthodoxy for everyone. Sometimes heresy can be declared as orthodoxy. Then, we go on through history, that was back in the 4th century, right? 363.
We go on through history, and something happened in a little German town by a little German priest named Martin Luther, and there was a response to that by the Catholic Church, obviously. And, the biggest response they had to the Protestant Reformation was the Council of Trent. Now, in this, they again come out with additional decrees, additional declarations of what people were to believe, and what people were to think about scripture and doctrines. But, in the Council of Trent, they come out with Canon 9, which reads, if anyone says that the sinner is justified by faith alone, meaning that nothing else is required to cooperate in order to obtain the grace of justification, and that it is not in any way necessary that he be prepared and disposed by the action of his own will, let him be anathema.
So, let me simplify that real quick. Canon 9 states, if anyone says that the sinner is justified by faith alone, let him be anathema. Let him be accursed. You see how they’re responding to the whole Protestant Reformation there, right? Canon 18 from the Council of Trent, if anyone says that the commandments of God are, even for one that is justified and constituted in grace, impossible to observe, let him be anathema. Read that again. If anyone says that the commandments of God are impossible to observe, let him be anathema.
This one is really weird, okay? You see its response to the Protestant Reformation because the way I heard it in a lot of churches coming up was that, yeah, that the Torah was too hard. You can’t keep the Torah. It’s just too difficult for anyone to keep, right? So apparently, the Baptist churches I went to, the Catholics here, according to Canon 18 of the Council of Trent, would consider them to be heretics because they’re going against official declared doctrine, saying that the commandments of God are impossible to observe.
Anyways, I thought that was humorous. But when people get so involved and so ingrained and so dedicated to the way they think and they want everyone else to believe it, they want everyone else to follow the way they think, the declarations they make about what to believe, it can lead to bad consequences and it did just that for the Catholics, right? So enter the Inquisition. According to Wikipedia, the Inquisition was a group of institutions within the Catholic Church whose aim was to combat heresy, conducting trials of suspected heretics.
Studies of the records have found that the overwhelming majority of sentences consisted of penances, but convictions of unrepentant heresy were handed over to the secular courts, which generally resulted in execution or life imprisonment. Yeah, so the Inquisition was the Catholic goon squad that went out hunting down what they called heretics. People who went against Catholic decrees and this was the people who were militantly observant of what they considered to be orthodoxy and it led to a lot of people being tortured and burned alive and drowned and executed and all sorts of things.
I mean, this is, again, another very interesting and worthwhile study into history, if you’re willing to do that, because you learn a lot of things that went on back then. I mean, crazy stuff. For instance, everyone knows Galileo, right? Galileo, even though he wasn’t the first, he started declaring that the earth was not the center of the universe, that it wasn’t the earth sitting still and everything else in the universe revolving around it. Instead, he stated that everything, at least in our solar system, revolved around the sun.
He proposed a heliocentric model instead of a geocentric model. Well, standard understanding of that time, standard orthodoxy of that time, believed that everything revolved around the earth. Well, because Galileo said things revolved around the sun instead, he was convicted of heresy. He was tried and convicted of heresy and put under house arrest, but fortunately, he wasn’t killed. This wasn’t the case for a lot of other people, though. One of those instances was William Tyndale. William Tyndale wasn’t the first to translate the original Hebrew and Greek into English, but he was the first one to have a complete translation, right? John Wycliffe actually did a translation into English before Tyndale, but Tyndale had a complete from Genesis to Revelation, right? Well, mostly because of this, and for some other stuff, too, William Tyndale was convicted on the heresy of Lutheranism, the heresy of being a Protestant, and of course, for translating into English, but because he was convicted of the heresy of Lutheranism or of Protestantism, he was executed for this.
He was tied to a stake, strangled to death, and then they had his body burned because they considered him to be a heretic because they didn’t agree with what he believed. That’s the whole conflict between heresy and orthodoxy. George Orwell, in his book 1984, wrote, orthodoxy is unconsciousness, and for a lot of people, especially those who are in power, that’s what they want it to be. They want it to be people being unconscious and just going along with whatever they’re told.
However, it’s not just Jews and Catholics that talk about and consider people to be heretics. Yeah, guess what? It’s also Protestants as well. Real quick, leading up to tonight’s drash in the research and study this week, we ran across an article from an Eastern Orthodox, I forget what rank or position he was within Eastern Orthodox, but anyways, he was referring to the Pope as a heretic because he was trying to, the Pope was trying to, I don’t know, make an alliance or do something with Protestants, and because of that, this Eastern Orthodox guy said the Pope was a heretic for doing that.
Oh, yeah, there’s a whole history behind the Catholics and Eastern Orthodox, but that’s something for another day. Yeah, the Pope has been declared a heretic lately as well. Now, heresy and Protestantism. According to the Orthodox Wiki, Baptists are part of the Congregationalist heresy, meaning that they don’t have bishops or any traditional ecclesiological structures. So according to the Orthodox, the Eastern Orthodox, Greek Orthodox, those kind of guys, Baptists are heretics. Going on, according to Anabaptists, as Gnosticism was a Christian movement that was refuted as a heresy, Evangelicalism is a Christian movement with ideas that go far afield from Jesus, the Gospels, and Christian Orthodoxy.
So Anabaptists consider Evangelicals heretics. Yep, it’s crazy. Then we read some more history, and I’m sorry, Mildred Bangs Wynkoop writes that with Calvinist representatives from other countries, 28 people, and in 1618 published a condemnation of Arminius and his followers as heretics. So in 1618, people who were followers of John Calvin came against people who were followers of Arminius, and the Calvin followers declared the Arminius followers heretics. For those of you who don’t know or are not really in the know, there’s a lot of Baptists who go along the Calvin tradition nowadays, and there’s a lot of Methodists who go along the Arminian tradition nowadays.
Just a little nugget. But anyways, speaking of John Calvin, now, there’s a very famous historical thing that happened with John Calvin and the subject of heresy, and a guy named Michael Servetus. But anyways, according to Christianity Today writing about this incident, Calvin informed the Catholic Inquisition of Servetus’ location. He was caught out when he came to Geneva, however, where he was spotted and the local council had him arrested and sentenced to death. To give some credit to Calvin, he encouraged Servetus to repent, with no success.
He also unsuccessfully lobbied for some relative leniency for the prisoner, suggesting beheading instead of being burned alive. But various correspondence shows that even though Calvin did not sentence Servetus, he still believed it was right for him to die for his heresy. Okay, so Calvin considered Servetus to be a heretic, and Calvin had Servetus killed, right? So, we’ve got two Protestants here, non-Catholic Protestants, that are going against each other. Or rather, if you know your history, it’s just Calvin going against Servetus, but Calvin says, Servetus, you’re a heretic.
Or more specifically, Calvin, I’m sorry, Servetus, I disagree. And because of that, Calvin had Servetus killed. Now, this article this came from, tries to give credit to John Calvin. John Calvin had Servetus killed, and they’re trying to give credit to John Calvin, because apparently Calvin tried to get some leniency for Servetus. Well, some leniency would be not to call the Catholic goon squad, the Inquisition, to come and kill Servetus in the first place. That would have been leniency on Calvin’s part.
A lot of people say that Calvin did not kill Servetus. But yes, Calvin did kill Servetus, and he gloried in it, okay? Just like nowadays, if it was Calvin pointing a gun at Servetus and pulling the trigger, and then Calvin saying, well, I didn’t shoot him, or I didn’t kill him, the gun did. No, you instigated it, you pulled the trigger, Calvin pulled the trigger on the Inquisition, and that’s what got Servetus killed. So yeah, Calvin killed Servetus.
But in Calvin’s own words, he writes, “…many people have accused me of such ferocious cruelty that I would like to kill again the man I have destroyed. Not only am I indifferent to their comments, but I rejoice in the fact that they spit in my face.” So he gloried in killing Michael Servetus. He goes on to say, “…one day, glory and riches shall be the reward of your pains, but above all, do not fail to rid the country of those scoundrels who stir up the people to revolt against us.
Such monsters should be exterminated, as I have exterminated Michael Servetus the Spaniard.” I mean, this is nuts. This is one Christian towards another. Killing them, and then glorying in killing them. Wanting to kill them again, even, as he writes in other places. This is the result of militant orthodoxy. Of disagreeing with someone who believes differently over things that really aren’t even salvational issues. I mean, it’s nuts. Francis Schaeffer writes, “…biblical orthodoxy without compassion is surely the ugliest thing in the world.” I mean, as you look at history, things like the Calvin-Servetus incident, things like the Inquisition, yeah, biblical orthodoxy without compassion is surely the ugliest thing in the world.
So how do we deal with it all? We can’t go back and change things that happened in the past. Be nice if we could. I would not have as much weight as I do today. But yeah, we can’t change things that happened in the past. So how do we deal with all this subject of heresy and orthodoxy today? When we look at Ephesians chapter 4, verses 31 through 32, “…let all bitterness and wrath and displeasure and uproar and slander be put away from you, along with all evil, and be kind towards one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as Elohim also forgave you in Messiah.” Wise words, right? Put away all bitterness, put away your wrath, put away your displeasure and uproar and slander.
Someone comes up and you’re talking and you believe differently about something, well, that’s not the time to slander them. That’s not the time to be bitter towards them, be wrathful towards them like John Calvin was, not to get in an uproar about it. He goes on to say, be kind towards them, be tenderhearted towards them, forgive them. And if people had followed actual scripture, followed advice like this throughout history, history would have been a lot different and we would be in a lot different position than we are now.
Ephesians 4, 29, “…let no corrupt word come out of your mouth, but only such as is good for the use of building up, so as to impart what is pleasant to the hearers.” Only such as is good for the use of building up. First Corinthians 5, 12-13, “…for what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are inside, but Elohim judges those who are outside? And put away the wicked one from among you.” 2 Timothy 2, 24-25, “…and a servant of the Master should not quarrel, but be gentle towards all, able to teach, patient when wrong, and meekness instructing those who are in opposition, lest somehow Elohim give them repentance unto a thorough knowledge of the truth.” So, coming back to this whole subject of heresy and orthodoxy, or rather, coming back to differing ways of believing in a certain subject, right, says here, says, “…in meekness instruct those who are in opposition.” In meekness.
Not in wrath, not in violence, not with burning at the stake, not with executions. With meekness. Instructing those who are in opposition. When you come up upon someone who believes differently about a subject than you do, that’s referring here as someone who’s in opposition, so instruct them. Have a conversation with them. Learn where they’re coming from, why it is they view things the way they do, and of course, you do the same with them. Let them know where you’re coming from, why you believe the way you do.
You could learn something from them, they could learn something from you, but if you come against them and you’re just being violent, you’re being rude, you’re being hateful, what they’re going to do is they’re going to put up a wall, and they’re not going to be instructed in no way whatsoever. They’re not going to grow at all. Even if you are right in how you believe, you’re not going to build them up by coming against them with hate, and anger, and vitriol, and violence, because they’re just going to put up a wall, they’re going to go away, and they’re not going to be built up, and it’s your fault because you acted the way you did.
Let us not be like those in the past who have been so violent and atrocious towards others who believed differently. Instead, let us go by scripture that says, in meekness, instructing those who are in opposition to build them up, and in the process, we ourselves will grant ourselves the ability to grow and be furthered in our walk. Matthew 15, 13 through 14. But he answering said, every plant which my heavenly father has not planted shall be uprooted.
Leave them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind, and if the blind leads the blind, both shall fall into a ditch. So here, Yeshua is addressing the very subject that we’re talking about tonight. It says here, that every plant which my heavenly father has not planted shall be uprooted. Leave them alone. So if someone’s bringing in or believing something that you think is wrong, as we were told earlier, with meekness, instruct them and try to build them up, but if all else fails and they won’t listen or they’re obstinate, et cetera, hey, Yeshua says that they will be uprooted, because if it’s something the heavenly father, Yahweh, did not plant, they will be uprooted, just leave them alone.
He’s not saying go out, burn them at stake, or cut their heads off, or torture them, or bash them, get them fired from their job, no, just leave them alone. They will have their due reward if they are truly wrong, if it’s truly not from Yahweh. They will get their just rewards. So in summary, number one, orthodoxy is a doctrine that’s agreed upon by a particular group. Catholics have a set of orthodoxy that they’re supposed to believe and go by.
Protestants, well, not really Protestants, but it filters on down to the various flavors of Protestantism, Baptists have their own orthodoxy, Methodists have their own orthodoxy, Presbyterians have their own orthodoxy, Judaism has their own orthodoxy, even though they say there’s no official formulation, Eastern Orthodox has their own orthodoxy, et cetera, et cetera, but this orthodoxy pertains to a particular group. Orthodoxy is a belief or action that goes contrary to that established orthodoxy. Militant adherence to orthodoxy over the centuries has led to absolutely barbaric atrocities and unscriptural hatred.
Again, if you can stomach it, or if you like it, please go back and look at the history of the Christian church. Very, very interesting, definitely. We should continue to study, research, reexamine, and better ourselves always from now into the future. We may have learned things that were incorrect in the past, but we need to realize that we’re human, we do get things wrong, and most likely we still have some things that need to be corrected ourselves.
So always better yourself. We should worry less about orthodoxy, less about the groupthink of a particular organization, and instead concern ourselves more with scripture and what the word of Yahweh is saying. What does scripture tell us to think? What does scripture tell us to do? That’s what we should be focused on, not the orthodoxy, quote-unquote orthodoxy, of a particular group. It all goes back to scripture, and that’s just the God-honest truth. A few good quotes to leave you with.
John Milton wrote, hard are the ways of truth and rough to walk. If you come into an understanding of scripture that is contrary to a particular group, for instance, when we all know that the seventh day is Shabbat, not the first day, sometimes that truth can be rough to walk. Hard are the ways of truth and rough to walk, but stick with the truth. It’s not the established orthodoxy of a particular group you’re worried about, it’s what scripture says.
Charles Spurgeon, I always love getting quotes from Charles Spurgeon. Now Charles Spurgeon didn’t get everything right. He does have some things wrong, yeah, but he was a very good preacher and he had a lot of wise things to say. But Charles Spurgeon said that we must all learn to hear what we do not like. The question is not, is it pleasant, but is it true? So when someone comes up and they are saying something that you disagree with, that you can tell off the bat that you believe differently about a subject, don’t automatically dismiss it because it’s unpleasant.
Instead, look at it, examine it and decide, is it true? Charles Spurgeon also said that for us to hate those who are in error or talk of them with contempt or wish them ill or do them wrong is not according to the spirit of Christ. You cannot cast out Satan by Satan, nor correct error by violence, nor overcome hate by hate. The conquering weapon of the Christian is love. See, this is one of the reasons I love getting quotes from Charles Spurgeon and it fits right in with our whole subject of heresy and orthodoxy.