a time to sow…and a time to tear

Posted on January 19, 2010 by Matt

What is the demarcation between orthodoxy and heresy? Or that, when believers disagree about various dogma and doctrine at what point does one claim “heresy” and discontinue fellowship? Before answering this question, it must be stated that the idea of dis-fellowship should only be applied to believers. If this standard was applied to unbelievers or people who have no consistent and reliable information about Jesus and the Bible, why would we suppose them to be anything less then heretics? Further, if there was no fellowship with such people, how would they learn and know the truth? Thus, if a unbeliever holds to an errant view of Jesus it should not be faulted on that person, but rather, with meekness and fear correct the view.
The believer is held to a much higher standard. It is difficult in this age to refute errant views of “Christianity” because Christianity has become a a synonym for “theism.” In this, we often hear people say, “well im a Christian who believes….” And then she makes some horrible exegesis from scripture or merely emotes concerning some current ethical issue. So then, the point of this blog is to answer the question, “to what can the Christian say, ‘I believe…’” and it still correspond with orthodoxy?
The primary, essential credentials for orthodoxy are the fundamentals of the faith. This is minimal Christianity. If one does not hold to these, she is not by any means a “Christian.” These fundamentals are as follows, the deity of Christ, the inerrancy of Scriptures, bodily resurrection of Jesus, virgin birth, and immanent return. Of these, there is only one I have any leniency on and that is “inerrancy of Scripture. However, I am only lenient to the point, that the other four fundamentals of the faith can still be gleaned and defended. If the bible becomes so errant that the deity of Christ has become forfeit such a view of Scripture is detrimental. However, if one feels the Scriptures are completely accurate save a few historical or cultural datum (not that I believe this) I would not have a problem with such a view for the deity of Christ or any of the others would not be lost.
Some cults and various man made religions claim to hold to these, but this is only to maintain the guise and stability of Christianity. Over the course of the next few days I will be writing on each of the fundamentals and clearly defining them so as to avoid this cultic “bandwagoning.”
As for now, allow me to finish this thought. If anyone does not hold to these fundamentals, I would really question his relative Christianity. Now, as stated before people often refer to themselves as “Christian” when she is really meaning theist. The reason I make this distinction is, claiming to be a Christian you are soldered to very specific views about the bible and Jesus and the other fundamentals—any strays in these areas cause the erosion of Christianity into finite human religion.
Besides the fundamentals there is also a moral reasons to break bounds. Paul clarifies this when he wrote to the Corinthian Church: I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world. But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges.
Paul claims that if people are professing to be believers but living in immorality, this would be grounds to no longer have fellowship with them. However, I often see this taken too far, and Christians will not even have fellowship with non-beleivers because of immorality. But as Jesus taught us it is not the healthy that need a doctor but the sick.
The freedom of Christian choice concerning the morality of actions must be based on the bible. If someone claims, “I am a Christian who believes it is ok for me to have sex with my boyfriend.” This is beyond the scope of choice given to the believer for it is clear that any sexual act outside of marriage is a sin. If an act or the idea of it is not forbidden in scripture, and it ultimately leads to the good, one is free to partake in it.
Bottom line, if one does not hold to the fundamentals or is living in immorality he is not in a position to be in proper fellowship.

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