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.