Everyday Heresies

Over at Scot McKnight’s blog, this question was posted:

Scot, what are the “everyday heresies” the church embraces and/or espouses? Any insight? Wondering if complacency, consumerism, and the outsourcing of parental responsibility are more harmful than doctrinal irregularities or inconsistencies.

There were a lot of comments on the post attempting to answer the question. Since so many of them are worth pondering, I wanted to list some of my favorite responses:

  • the idolatry of busyness, the choice to let our schedules, our lives, and our finances to get out of control so we can stay on the treadmill of keeping up
  • he idea that it is possible to be an effective Christian outside of intentional involvement in and commitment to the ecclesial community of the body of Christ (the church)
  • our disconnect between orthodoxy (right beliefs) and orthopraxy (right practice)
  • It’s the paid staff’s job to do all the work. We pay your salary, we receive your services
  • the sacred/secular split and the idea that our daily work is purely instrumental to other ends
  • the dangerous assumption that if others do not understand the complexities of Christian doctrine as we do, then they are not fully Christian
  • he’s our pastor, so anyone who criticizes or questions him is being used by Satan to divide us
  • unquestioning allegiance to “the American dream”
  • people thinking that what really matter is the “spiritual” over and above the “physical”
  • the ideas that salvation is a matter of “accepting Jesus Christ as my personal Savior,” that it hinges on a discrete moment in time, and that salvation is synonymous with “going to heaven when I die”
  • the idea that the Bible is like a Magic 8-Ball with facile prooftext answers for every question
  • nationalism “baptized” with Christianity

These are all probably worth thinking about. The worst thing is that I am probably carrying around many ‘everyday heresies’ without even knowing it. Perhaps that is why a faith community is so important- a community of people that trust each other enough to call out these heresies while searching for truth together.

I would add my own ‘everyday heresies’: not questioning our addiction to consumerism, keeping our spending of money in the private realm and not discussing it communally much less seeing our resources communally, and letting Capitalism seep into every facet of the church

Please see the blog post for the sources of all the above responses


3 thoughts on “Everyday Heresies

  1. I’m wondering if “heresy” is the right term here. What I’ve always understood “heresy” to mean is anything which would be in contradiction to the orthodox beliefs of Christianity as espoused most specifically in the first 7 ecumenical councils of the Church. This may be a very limiting definition, which I think I see as well, but I’m wondering if maybe we need to expand the definition of the term itself.

    I agree that many of the ideas/attitudes/mentalities you mentioned are very detrimental to the Church and have crept in as common praxis and theology. It evidences the great power empire and the like has on people of faith since I think you can trace many of these “heresies” back to the influence empire and power have had on the Church.

  2. Dustin,

    Thanks so much for your comment. The use of the word “heresy” was also debated in the original post on Scot’s blog. I do think that perhaps heresy is used to broadly here, but it does get at a deeper problem. We have the word “heresy” to label unorthodox beliefs, but what name can we give to unorthodox practices or attitudes? Since we do not have as strong of a word to attach to unorthodox practices or attitudes, they seem to be less serious problems. On the other hand, most of these problems with practices and attitudes do come from incorrect or poor theology, so they can be traced back to incorrect beliefs.

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