Abortion,  Bible,  Grace,  Heresy,  Judgement,  Marriage

I am a Heretic

Pastor, Kevin DeYoung writes: “at present, one of the worst heresies is to be in the same zip code with someone who takes a firm stance on homosexuality” (see here). Heresy, Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek claims, is no longer deviation from dogma or even reason, but deviation from the crowd. If holy text and universal truth go the way of the dodo, then the crowd is all that we have left. And, although no one is quite ready to burn the heretic (in this country, at least), there are many ready to silence him.

But I am not yet faced with a death threat. And I am weak, fallible and prone to capitulation. So, let me just pour out heresies upon the page, setting the record straight, so that, when charged, I will not have any opportunity to plead not guilty and escape the fire. They will present my blog post and I will be condemned.

Let me begin with babies and marriage. I believe that the small growing baby in a mother’s womb is a human life carrying the image of God, to be treated with utmost care and, to the best of our ability, dependent on God, to be brought up, loved and honored. I believe that marriage is not a human construct, but a gift from God, a blessing. And that this kind of marriage cannot be given away even if the state decides to steal the word and hand it out as a label to all.

Now let’s talk about judgement. Is God a judgmental God? Yes, I think he is. He certainly thinks so since the Bible is replete with God judging sinful human beings. Does this conflict with love? No, and I can’t see why it should. Surely God’s love is pure (holy) and consequently could not tolerate evil. Evil is, understating it a little, anachronistic to love and so has no place with God.

Is it fair that God chooses some and not others to be recipients of saving love, of being adopted as children of God? Fair? No, if God was to be fair, all would be condemned. It is grace, not fairness, that has provoked God to give his only Son as a sacrifice on the behalf of a people chosen for himself, saved due to his grace not our ability to earn favor.

If God is judgmental in this sense, does that mean Christians should be? Well, no, there is no necessary connection between God’s judgment and human judgmentalism. That’s not to say Christians shouldn’t call evil evil and good good. Only that any recognition of evil, from a human point of view, has, as its point of reference, the person and character of God as revealed in his word. If anything, the previous statement about grace should provoke humility not arrogance. The Christian should have an acute awareness of his own sin and a humble gratitude for God’s undeserved favor. I dare say, and am sure, that many Christians, including myself, have not lived up to this and have been unduly arrogant, judgmental and harsh, but they have done so not because of their accord with God, but because of their (and my) flesh, the old nature with which the Christian fights.

Finally, may I confess my greatest heresy: I believe the Bible to be the word of God. In other words, inspired, infallible and, yes, inerrant. Consequently, when something is proposed as truth it is the Bible to which we should turn to check. The Bible is, as Calvin says, the straight hedge by which we measure every claim. The reason the Bible is true is that it is inspired by God who, by very nature, is truth. As Jesus (God incarnate) claimed, “I am  the way the truth and the life.”

There, so it is on record. I am a heretic. 

Assistant Professor of Philosophy and History of Ideas at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and The College at Southeastern.