Wednesday, January 04, 2017

The Heretical Use of the Label, "Heresy"

Hopefully, I will be coming back to other series I had started and want to finish, namely the Landmarksim series and then the epistemology series.


Scripture teaches to separate.  It's all over the Bible.  God Himself separated Noah and his family from all the wicked men of the earth.  God saves us by separating us from sin, from hell, and from the world system. He commands us to separate, which is to be holy as He is holy.  God wants separation from false doctrine and sinful practice.

All separation is not good.  The Bible teaches unity.  Usually, the separation that causes disunity isn't called separation, but division or being factious.  This is the basis of the word, "heresy."  The English word, "heresy," is found only once in the King James Version, "heresies" there three times, and "heretick," also once.  The word translated, "heresy," which is actually the word, heresis, is found nine times in the New Testament, and is also translated, "sect" and "factions."  I'm not getting too in depth here, but the heretic is someone who causes division, and the biblical idea is that he is causing divisions off of the already established, divine truth.

In the classic usage of "heretic" in Titus 3, it is someone who is causing division in his church.  The heretic is someone who causing a splintering off or a faction within a church, like a church split.  It doesn't have to be doctrinal.  It could be that the heretic doesn't like being told what to do.

I come now to the way people throw the word "heretic" around.  "Heretic" is used as a pejorative like the word racist.  I'm saying that it is used to intimidate people.  It stings.  Someone doesn't want to be heretic.  The idea is that if he gets in line and stops separating over a certain doctrine and practice, what some would call non-essential, then he will then stop being a heretic.

The charge of heresy leaves a believer in a predicament.  He believes a doctrine.  He sees it in scripture.  His church believes it.  He separates over those diverging from that doctrine.  They call him a heretic.  If he no longer separates though, he thinks he disobeys the doctrine of separation and he also hurts his own conscience.  On other hand, if he holds to his position and separates over it, he's a heretic, according to someone's charge.

Who says he is a heretic?  Is it someone with authority over him?  Does some "theologian" or "Christian author," who calls what he does "heresy," have the authority to stick that to him, mark him with it?  I guess so.  From my perspective, it doesn't do anything to someone, except possibly hurt his reputation with someone, maybe take away some of his influence that he might otherwise have.  It definitely does not mean that it is actual heresy.  Very likely it is not.

If someone is a heretic, what should people do with him?  They should separate from him.  This is an irony, I've noticed.  Their "heretic" has already separated over a doctrine, and now those who he's separated from, they are separating from him, because he's a heretic.  "You want to separate from me over doctrine, well, then I'm separating from you too, you heretic!"  "Too late, I've already separated from you, so you can't separate from me!"

I practice separation from professing Christian brothers (cf. 2 Thess 3:6-15, 1 Cor 5).  That isn't heresy.  If it were heresy, how would that be?  Even though the use of "heretic" in Titus 3 is in a church, and that's primarily where heresy occurs, heresy is a dividing from true doctrine.  Someone is a heretic, who divides from true, historic doctrine.  True doctrine is historic.  If a doctrine has been established as a doctrine from the Bible and history, the one with the new doctrine must be the heretic. If someone is a heretic, that would need to be established.

Since separation is supposed to be loving, someone should show the "heretic," warn him, so that he will know how he is diverting off the path of historic, biblical doctrine.  I always welcome that.  I can say that I've never had that from someone who called me a heretic or at least inferred it.  Usually these people just give you the cold shoulder.  They don't even attempt to show you.  Why?  They don't love you.  Their charge of "heresy" is just a self-serving, kind of Pharisaism.  It reminds me of some type of Roman Catholic inquisition.  The inquisitor shouts, "Heresy!"  It's good they don't get to burn you at the stake in the United States.

I've noticed "heresy" being used on three doctrines I believe in particular.  One every one of these, I have shown how that it is a true doctrine, in scripture, and is also historic.  It isn't new.  One, I believe God has promised to preserve every one of His Words in perfection for every generation of believer.  I can't accept two Bibles.  Two, I separate over doctrine and practice.  I'm a separatist.  The Bible teaches it. Three, I'm local only in ecclesiology and believe in the perpetuity of the church, based upon faith in biblical promise.  Our church doesn't accept non-Baptist baptism.  The people who call me and others a heretic for believing these three should have to show how they are not biblical or historic.

I am aware of only fundamentalists calling me and others like me, heretics.  I've never had someone say it to my face or in a phone call.  I get it from long distance, said to others.  I find out through the grapevine.  It's not a very effective tactic to help a heretic.  It really isn't someone interested in unity, because if you want unity, you use the spiritual weapon to pull down the stronghold.  Calling someone a heretic is a carnal weapon that isn't effective at reaching any desirable conclusion for the one labeled.


Lance Ketchum said...

Good article! Often in local churches, it is the person that seeks to divide that ends up claiming the high ground by labeling those with which he disagrees 'heretics.' Then, he seeks to lead a certain group of those he has convinced away, which is what really defines heresy.

Anonymous said...

Some of these things may be subjective and matters of personal convictions vs. heresy. For example, our church does not condone the singing of "The Hallelujah Chorus" at Christmas or any other time because "hallelujah" is not in the Bible. But it's still a relatively neat song, so I would not go so far as to call someone a heretic who actually did condone the song.

Anonymous said...

Kent, I have never met you in person and have no clue who you are in real life. You make an interesting point here:

"I am aware of only fundamentalists calling me and others like me, heretics. I've never had someone say it to my face or in a phone call. I get it from long distance, said to others. I find out through the grapevine. It's not a very effective tactic to help a heretic. It really isn't someone interested in unity, because if you want unity, you use the spiritual weapon to pull down the stronghold. Calling someone a heretic is a carnal weapon that isn't effective at reaching any desirable conclusion for the one labeled."

Now, I have no idea what your interactions with others have been, so I am not making this a personal statement about you. Let's say that someone has been privately rebuked or questioned or confronted in a gentle manner and the person making the confrontation has been mocked, scorned or completely ignored? In that case, a person can't really do much else. For example, say there is some false teacher on tv who is nothing but a fraud and is greedy of filthy lucre. If the person has been around for longer than 5 minutes, you just know that the person has been confronted with the error of their ways. You can't really blame someone for saying "(So and so) is a fraud and a false teacher and his errors have been pointed out numerous times. I would not recommend heeding their teaching." If a heretic has a history of ignoring or scorning people who try to confront him, you can't really say that calling him a heretic is creating disunity, can you? In that case, it sounds like common sense and someone trying to warn others.

(Again, I have no idea who you are in real life and I have no personal knowledge of you. To me, you are some guy with an interesting blog, so I am speaking in great generalities and not about you specifically, even though you used yourself in your example.)

Kent Brandenburg said...


Thanks. I agree.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Anonymous Commenter on the Hallelujah Chorus,

I agree generally with your comment, but the idea of hallelujah not being in the Bible, I don't get, because it is Hebrew for "praise the LORD." Hallel is Hebrew for praise and jah is short for Jehovah. Praise Jehovah. It is found at least 23 times in the book of Psalms. The Greek transliteration is seen in the Greek translation of the OT. Psalm 104:35 ends with it. Psalm 111, for instance, starts with Hallelujah. If you were told it isn't in the Bible, then you were told the wrong thing.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Anonymous Commenter Who Says He Doesn't Know Me,

I agree that this could happen, and it probably has, but what's the point of referring someone as a heretic, because he separates over the preservation of scripture? Or that he believes that Protestant baptism isn't authoritative? It's more of a tool. I'm not sure they would use that term for someone who teaches baptism is a means of grace, like Luther. They praise Luther, a state church guy, not a heretic, but someone believes God preserved every Word, and separates rather than to let that spread and take root, so he's a heretic. It's used as a pejorative.


Anonymous said...

Hi Bro. Brandenburg,

I recently realized through the help of my wife's pastor that we are under a pastor that follows Hyles' belief on repentance. I have confronted our pastor with the truth on repentance with my wife, as we clearly believe it is to turn from our sins to Jesus Christ our Lord. I have believed this from a child. I didn't know the heresy of Hyles' way of repentance and now I believe we are in the midst of an apostate church, where once we thought the Holy Spirit was working, we now see the fraud that masked itself as Salvation.

Craig Kuha said...

Hi Pastor,
Alot could be said about separation and heretic labeling. There will always be problems and issues in local churches. This post could go in many different directions very quickly.
I know many pastors probably read your posts, and they find them enlightening. Somewhere along the line a pastor plays a role in all this. A good pastor has a shepherds heart. He will leave the ninety and nine and go find the one that went astray.He will make one more phone call or write one more post. He never gives up on people.
Im thankful to the Lord that God gives his people pastors to help make them feel secure.
Thankyou Pastor Kent.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Anonymous in the Hyles Church,

I'm glad you are getting out of that! That doesn't make you a heretic. The heresy would be what diverges from scriptural and historical truth, which is the Hyles false gospel.

Thanks for reporting.

Anonymous said...

Hyles was a great man and therefore deserved to be a minister. Some of you have too meek of an attitude and too much of a "servant" spirit instead of a leader spirit. Mark 10:43 says the great among us will be our minister, not our "servant." Since when did Baptists start believing in this milquetoast "servant" stuff that is in these other versions? I think some of you are paying too much attention to wrong versions.

JMark said...

Matthew 20:28... Are you saying Hyles had a greater mission to lead than to be a servant and minister to others?

I would argue that Hyles was self-righteous much like the rich, young ruler who was a leader of men and would not accept being a disciple of Christ.

JMark said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

You remind me of Donald Trump. You throw rocks at everybody but whine when someone comes back at you. But then, why am I surprised? You defend Donald Trump.

Lance Ketchum said...

Eventually, there must be a judgment call by the leadership of a church when one of the sheep becomes divisive and begins to reveal himself as a wolf. Compromising with a wolf will result in the Bride having her throat torn out.

Kent Brandenburg said...


I went ahead and printed Anonymous (two comments above at 10:45am), even though I have no prerogative to post anonymous comments. Sometimes I will publish a comment of someone anonymous, that is negative, because I do want people to see it.

This column is a "whine," he says. I remind him of Donald Trump. I defend Donald Trump. And he is anonymous. It's pretty loaded for a short comment. What does it mean? It could mean a great many things. What does it say about "heresy" and "heretic"? Nothing.

Anonymous said...

Mr. B., maybe I'm taking it a bit too far. I mean that the word "hallelujah" is nowhere to be found in the Bible. Yes, there are phrases that mean this that are in the Bible, but the actual word itself is never found in the Bible. I don't want to take this too far, because it's a good word and of course no one would object to it. But if you want to take things literally, it is never found in the Bible. I like the "Hallelujah Chorus" overall. But it's not a true scriptural song in the sense that it's literally scripture put to song. Still a good song! I hope I'm not making a mountain out of a molehill.

Anonymous said...

There are a lot of sayings or words that are common in Christian "language" that do not come from the Bible. As mentioned earlier, Christians like to use the word "hallelujah" even though it's never found in the Bible. A lot of cards that are given to young parents talk about children being "knit" or "knitted" together in their mother's womb. I have no idea where this wording comes from, but it's not in the Bible. Is this anything to get worked up about? No. It's just an interesting point that a lot of words that are thought of as being in the Bible really are not there. Does this make those saying wrong? No, of course not.

Kent Brandenburg said...


The comment seem to be coming faster on this post, some of them snarky, which is kind of funny. I don't know what snark expects to accomplish. Am I really sitting here throwing rocks at people? That's funny too. I don't write of the nature of "throwing rocks." Throwing rocks is something like, "You remind me of Donald Trump," said anonymously. I'm not really saying what I really think about someone who would write that without identifying himself, but I'll leave it to your imagination.

Alright, Mr. Hyles Supporter,

I didn't publish your last comment because I was very clear that I wasn't writing a comment to you, being very specific that it was to the 10:45am guy. I had not written an answer to your comment. Hyles isn't a great man. And you completely mangle that Mark passage in typical Hyles fashion. It's worse than Mormon exegesis of the Bible. Hyle did tremendous damage in this world. If people did get saved through his work, it was despite him. Here was a man who said that repentance was the enemy of soulwinning. There is no positive room for Hyles here.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Two Hallelujah Anonymous Commenters,

When people with a more than superficial understanding of scripture read these types of comments, they've got to be scratching their heads. They've got to wonder what's happening in the churches of people who read this blog. Or maybe your church people don't read this blog, but that it is unique to you.

Did you read my comment to you? I commented to you and you acted like I said nothing. I'm saying that Hallelujah is in the Bible. I gave specific references. Did you know that the Old Testament was written in Hebrew? Hallelujah is in the Bible. Both of you said Hallelujah was not in the Bible. It is in the Bible. It. Is. In. The. Bible. If a man in Israel reads the Old Testament and He reads "Hallelujah" in the Hebrew Old Testament, are you saying that is not in the Bible?

Please let me know if you finally get this. The Bible wasn't written in English. It wasn't given by inspiration of God in English. English wasn't a language when we received God's Word. Please let me know that you get this. It was written in Hebrew, Greek, and small portions in Aramaic. Do you understand this?

By the way, anonymous commenter that says I remind him/her that I remind him/her of Donald Trump, is this an example of throwing stones?

James Bronsveld said...

Anonymous wrote, "But if you want to take things literally, it [hallelujah] is never found in the Bible." Of course, if you take an English inspiration/preservation view of Scripture, this statement could be true. And that would create the equally problematic decision about whether to continue to use or sing the word "Bible," which also appears the Bible.

Craig Kuha said...

If your going to lets say a Southern Baptist church that has a mixture of KJV- NIV, but a Ruckminite attends your church without causing trouble or passing out flyers should you shun him or call him a heretic? Should this church according to the above example love and accept him? Craig

Steve Rogers said...

Hyles supporters literally make me nauseous with their hermeneutics....
It may be weak to them to have a servants heart but I'll stick with the example of Christ over Hyles any day. Phil 2:5-11 says He took upon himself the form of a servant.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Your comment isn't here. :-D

Kent Brandenburg said...


Thanks. I agree.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Rogers, point well taken. I don't want to argue or take away from your point. The only thing I'm saying is that great people can be ministers, and we should consider them great. If it was "servanthood" that was supposed to be emphasized, then wouldn't Matthew 20:26 and Mark 10:43 have said "servant" instead of "minister" like all the other versions do? I do agree that having a servant's heart is truly necessary to be a good minister, or a great minister. Or am I getting caught up too much in semantics and misinterpreting the verses? I am willing to concede to that possibility.