Thursday, March 22, 2007
The Invasion of the Body Snatchers
G. P. Fisher on how heresies originate:
"When Christianity is brought into contact with modes of thought and tenets originating elsewhere, either of two effects may follow. It may assimilate them, discarding whatever is at variance with the gospel, or the tables may be turned and the foreign elements may prevail. In the latter case there ensues a perversion of Christianity, an amalgamation with it of ideas discordant with its nature. The product then is a heresy. But to fill out the conception, it seems necessary that error should be aggressive and should give rise to an effort to build up a party, and thus to divide the Church. In the Apostles' use of the term, "heresy" contains a factious element".
B. B. Warfield gave the following comments on this:
"Possibly Dr. Fisher would not himself present it as the formula by which every heresy has been compounded. It obviously fairly describes, however, the origin of most of the greater heresies which have vexed the Church. The early gnostic systems were but varied attempts to baptize oriental pantheistic and dualistic speculations. Each of the christological constructions of the ante- Chalcedonian Church was but an effort to pour the teachings of the Scriptures as to the person of the Redeemer into the molds of some human philosophy. The Pelagian exaltation of human ability and consequent denial of the necessity of the inner work of the Holy Ghost was but (as Hefele says) "the rehabilitation of that heathen view of the world," in accordance with which Cicero declared that men do indeed thank God for gold and lands, but never for their virtues; and Jerome accordingly speaks of it accurately as "the heresy of Pythagoras and Zeno." The subsequent semi-Pelagianism which has stained the thought of the whole Latin Church, and the Arminianism which has sapped the purity of so large a section of Protestant thought, are but less acute forms of the same exaggeration of human rights and powers as over against the sovereign right and absolute power of the Ruler of the universe".
And here's his conclusion:
"We are "orthodox" when we account God's declaration in his Word superior in point of authority to them, their interpreter, and their corrector. We are "heretical" when we make them superior in point of authority to God's Word, its interpreter, and its corrector. By this test we may each of us try our inmost thought and see where we stand-on God's side or on the world's".