Dispassionate disquisitions on heresy

New Warhorn Media post by Tim Bayly:


I’m going to ask a really dumb question here: at one point does a difference over a point of theology become heretical, by which I mean: that the person holding a particular belief cannot therefore be counted a Christian?

To explain: we acknowledge differences between Reformed thinking and what we can loosely refer to as “Arminianism” but neither outlook would normally refer to the other as being heretical. Ditto for questions over believers’-baptism. We do point out errors such as:

  • paedocommunion
  • CS Lewis, on e.g. his views on the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture
  • old-earth creationism

There are then any number of things we would refer to as gross error, if not heretical. What I am wanting to work out is: where do we draw the line, and why?

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For several years, I’ve been thinking over this question almost constantly, and just this morning it was Mary Lee’s and my discussion on the way to and home from worship. The discussion was spawned by a communication from a close relative which, apropos to nothing, included the statement concerning her husband’s daughter, “his daughter, who is a pastor, said etc.” The mention of this sin was entirely extraneous, and it’s my perception this is normal/common when she talks about her husband’s daughter.

So how serious is this? Serious enough to respond with warning that this is a sinful condition her stepdaughter is in, and sin should be hidden (or at least some effort expended to keep it so)? Should the parading of women pastors in casual conversation be treated and elicit responses like fornication, adultery, sodomy, theft, gossip, greed, use of contraceptives, etc.; or rather, saying “shit” or not waiting for the hostess to take the first bite or saying “human” to avoid God’s name “man” or “adam” for our race, or getting snarky here?

I don’t mention this to stake a position on your question, but to agree it is exceedingly important today when the most fundamental laws of God are being trimmed or outright defied by Christians of the most conservative commitments. However, I’ve said since I was young that feminism is a heresy, and that its attack and rebellion is not against the authority of man, but the authority of God the Father Almighty.

We have refused to oppose this terrible evil and now have a whirlwind of sexual rebellion no one would ever have predicted when I was a teenager. Ever ever. And we have complementarianism to thank for this to no little degree. Damn complementariansim, I say.

Others’ thoughts? Love,


I miss Fr. Bill.


A post was merged into an existing topic: Bayly’s daily

I think heresy deals less with what you have to believe and more what you can’t deny. Do you absolutely need to believe in the virgin birth to be a Christian? Not sure St Mark seemed to think so… but you can’t deny it. Do you need to believe in male headship? Well you can’t deny the Fatherhood of God. Do you need to understand and defend a full view of penal substitutionary atonement to be saved? I don’t think so…but you can’t deny that Jesus came to offer his life in the place of sinners.

That seems to me to get us closer to what heresy involves… not a full list of what one must believe to be orthodox, but what one can’t deny and still be in the fold of the Saviour.


This is an interesting idea, and I’ve never thought of it on those terms. I think you would have to have Paul’s list in 1 Corinthians 15:1-8 as a list of what you have to believe though.

15 Now I would remind you, brothers,[a] of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.
3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.

This is the starting point (not a full list) , then go to what you can’t deny. At least, so it seems to me.

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I recently started reading William Whitaker’s Disputation on Holy Scripture, and this passage reminded me of this post.

(Whitaker was a 16th cent. Anglian who fought against the Jesuit Robert Bellarmine who was winning many over to Rome)

Indeed, when I compare our side with the papists, I easily perceive the great truth of Christ’s saying, that "the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.” Mark well, I beseech you, with what solicitude, vigilance, and cunning, these men maintain their own kingdom! They prevent their people from reading our books, and forbid them to have any intercourse with us, that so they may provide against the influence of that contagion which they fear. Surely this is wisely done. Who can deny it? For if we be heretics, as they, though falsely, exclaim, it is but a just consequence of that opinion of us to denounce us, as persons to be carefully avoided by all who are under their control. In the meanwhile we buy, read, peruse all the productions of those whom we justly esteem heretics, and never suspect the possibility of any damage accruing from our conduct. Hence unskilful persons are easily deceived; especially if there be any encourager at hand to lend an impulse, as there are at present everywhere too many. We avoid the acquaintance of no one; yea, we take a pleasure in conversing with papists. This is all well, if your aim and desire be to reclaim them from their errors, and if you are able to do this, and see that there is any hope of them remaining. Those who are perverse and desperate should be left to themselves; you can do them no service, and they may do you much damage. I commend courtesy in every one, specially in an academic or man of letters; but courtesy should not be so intent upon its duties towards men as to forget piety and its duty towards God. Bellarmine compares heresy to the plague, and rightly. For the plague does not hang about the outward limbs, but attacks the heart, immediately poisons it with its venom, and suddenly destroys him who but a little before was in health; then it spreads a fatal contagion to others also, and often pervades a whole family, sometimes fils the state itself with corpses and funerals. In like manner heresy especially assails the heart, and expels faith from the mind ; then creeps further and diffuses itself over many. If then you tender your salvation, approach not near so deadly a pestilence without an antidote or counterpoison. Speaking of Alexander the coppersmith, Paul gives this admonition, 2 Tim. 4:5 , “ Of whom be thou ware also;” and subjoins as the reason of this caution, "for he hath greatly withstood our words.” Those, therefore, who not only cherish in their own minds a perverse opinion in religion, but cry out against and oppose sound doctrine, and resist it to the utmost of their power, with such persons it is perilous and impious to live on pleasant and familiar terms. For, as the same apostle elsewhere directs, Tit. 1:10,“ A man that is a heretic, after the first and second admonition, must be avoided. For he is subverted, and sins against his own conscience, and is condemned by his own judgment.” (pp. 16-17)

courtesy should not be so intent upon its duties towards men as to forget piety and its duty towards God.” And if one is not convicted of his duties towards God, and that from Scripture, he will never oppose anyone.