I want to talk about some words I’ve heard lately. They’re not very nice ones, either. No, not those, most of the common curse words aren’t near the problem some folks think they are. The words I’m talking about sound fine on their face, but when you look a little deeper at what’s really being said, they’re not so fine. These are words that some Christians are throwing around to describe other Christians. Ones that don’t agree with them, and that challenge long-held beliefs. Rather than wax poetic (or not poetic, in my case), let’s get started.
1) Unbiblical_ According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, this word means “contrary to or unsanctioned by the Bible”. This one comes up a lot in relation to Emergence theology, liberal Christianity and anything else that doesn’t fit with a strictly fundamental understanding of the Bible and what it says. It sounds very profound, but the problem is that who decides what the Bible is saying on a particular subject? As a Methodist, I read and interpret the Bible using Scripture, Reason, Experience and Tradition (Wesleyan Quadrilateral). Someone else would use another method and come up with something else. Who’s right?
2)Orthodox_ “conforming to established doctrine especially in religion”. This is one that some folks get beat up with because they have the temerity to disagree or ask questions. I’m trying to figure out when doctrine became so important that it’s defense was worth trashing a brother or sister in Christ, to the point of accusing them of:
3)Heresy_ controversial or novel change to a system of beliefs, especially a religion, that conflicts with established dogma. Doesn’t sound all that bad, does it? Yeah, until you realize that all those people tortured and burned during the Inquisition were considered heretics. There’s something else at work in using this word. If someone’s a heretic, you don’t have to refute, or even listen to, what they say. Bad as heresy is, it’s still better than:
4)Apostasy_ is the formal religious disaffiliation or abandonment or renunciation of one’s religion. If a heresy is bad, then this one must be “don’t pass go, don’t collect $200, go straight to hell” bad. I mean, you’re not just changing things, you’ve turned your back on it all! If that’s not bad enough, there’s:
5)Blasphemy_ irreverence toward holy personages, religious artifacts, customs, and beliefs. I don’t know about you, but I think a little irreverence now and then is a good thing. If we’re not careful, it’s easy for Christians to get snotty and arrogant. Nothing lets the air out of your balloon like laughter. It works better if you join in.
That’s a lot of negative stuff. What’s it all about, you ask? Those engaging in this type of speech would tell you that they are fighting for the soul of Christianity. If that’s true, then Christianity has already lost its soul and it’s time to scrap it and start over.