Kurt Willems writes:
There is an unspoken (or, often overly spoken) code of theological, cultural, and political beliefs that many within evangelical churches often champion as “TRUTH.” Rather than admitting that we all need to be humble in these matters, some are quick to drop the “heretic” bomb (just read the comments section of any blog about the work of Rob Bell ). The link between “heresy” (well, some folks’ definition of that word) and evangelical rejects is sad and obvious. Many faithful disciples of Jesus find themselves in situations where they are labeled a “heretic” because their views don’t line up with the status quo.
Sometimes, if I’m honest, I’m tempted to pull the lever on a reverse heretical bomb. I’d love to give some people a taste of their own medicine. So, l when I’m accused of not fitting some sort of unspoken code or litmus test, I often think that demonstrating the fallacy of such thinking and labeling it as “heresy” might be a fun reversal of fortunes. I think of saying: O, so you believe that the world was created in 7 literal days… Well, you know, that reading the bible in its proper genre, historical, and theological context renders your view as heretical. What if some of these issues that get us deemed “heretics” were labeled as the new “conservative” viewpoint, and we started calling various forms of fundamentalism the new “liberalism?” But then, that thought quickly fades as I remember how it feels to be labeled a heretic and thereby become an evangelical reject. Such a reversal would lead to more infighting, which should not be our goal. I long to be part of a movement of reconciliation – on every level.
My personal view is that outside of the Apostle’s Creed and the four convictions of evangelicalism, that we do well not question the sincerity of anyone’s commitment to evangelical Christian faith. I would say that the four convictions may not be necessary for those expressions of faith that have not historically claimed such a label. The movement of Jesus is diverse and we should have a “big tent” that allows for multiple voices. Sure, there is tons of value in identifying with a specific tribe (Anabaptist, Pietism, Roman Catholic, Wesleyan, Reformed, Orthodox, Anglican, etc.), but within those traditions and as they interact with each other, wouldn’t we do well to not drop the “heresy” bomb every time someone has a view that diverges from one’s own?
Do you ever experience rejection from evangelical culture? Perhaps you know what it’s like to have “heresy” bombs tossed in your general direction. I’ve decided that I’m okay with being labeled a “heretic” – in quotes – because ultimately I’m convinced that this sort of heresy isn’t heresy at all. Sure, none of us will get every part of our belief system absolutely perfect. But if “heresy” in quotes helps us partner in the mission of God, then I’m convinced that being a “heretic” of this sort isn’t so bad after all.