Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Heretics

In January 2008 I am due to speak at the Eccentric Ministers Conference (I kid you not) in South Wales. The other speakers are Dick Lucas, Robert Letham and Geoff Thomas. I have decided to speak on "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Heretics." I've already started to draft an outline for it that will comprise of seven points drawn from Scripture, illustrated from church history (ancient and postmodern) and applied to pastoral ministry.

However, I would love to hear from readers what you think those seven habits of highly effective heretics might be.

Comments are open.

12 comments:

Stephen Dawe said...

How about "avoid direct discussion on the substance of your beliefs".

The Bororean said...

MacArthur's 7
http://bororean.blogspot.com/2007/08/beware-of-preachers.html

Jon said...

People who think that everyone is a heretic apart from themselves...

Wanda said...

One habit of heretics is to use conventional orthodox terminology but infuse it with new meaning. This allows the heretic to speak to two audiences simultaneously: the older orthodox who aren't aware of new interpretations and the younger up and coming who want to be freed from orthodox constraints on certain thinking.

Jonathan Hunt said...

The most effective tactic is remembering to smile with your lips together so you don't show your fangs...

PS What why where and how is this conference? South wales is do-able from my neck of the woods...

drew@jonah said...

Working a defensiveness into their theology. For instance, the modern prophetic movement, mormons and jw's all tell their people that resistance is a sign that they're doing God's will.

Also, "judge not lest ye be judged" seems to be popular.

-d

Anonymous said...

and never forget..... smooth speech and nice talk are always effective...especially in a postmodern, existential world where everyone would rather feel and experience instead of know and believe.

- Kerry
BlackCalvinist
http://theologicallycorrect.com

mbaker said...

1. Despite their frequent protests to the contrary, Christ's chosen agenda for his followers is secondary to the chosen leader's agenda.

2. They preach a feel good gospel where what they call "sin management" is out of style.

3. They always have a new angle that's supposed to lead to "a new and improved" version of Christianity.

4. They cleverly disguise their errors by labeling their detractors legalists, Pharisees, or jezebel spirits.

5. They call churches who do not lean toward dramatic emotional experiences in their services, "dead" or "the frozen chosen".

6. They explain away their lavish lifestyles by emphasizing a "prosperity" gospel where their followers are encouraged to give sacrificially to their ministries, on order to get a windfall from God.

7. They are skilled public relations experts who know how to effectively milk, and bilk a crowd.

Andy said...

Especially for the leaders/teachers...

1. Appeal to the religious urge in people, affirm their inner feelings: give them something to DO for God - every effective heretic knows how to keep people busy in 'pleasing God'

2. Be kind in person and demanding in rules - personable heretics can convincingly communicate unpalatable restrictions and untruthful doctrines in ways that the unpalatable orthodox teachers could never communicate grace centred freedoms.

3. Create a community which supports 'their own' and fears, suspects or rejects 'the others' (or the whole world). It doesn't need to start in outright exclusivism but it does need to have exclusivist tendancies - tend to dichotomising teaching often and you'll build an environment where heresy can breed unhindered by the weeds of love. This works best if you eventually secure complete isolation from the evils of 'the world'.

4. Base everything you say on the Bible, show how you can proof text all your beliefs in the WORD OF GOD, let the words of the text mean what you say they mean and do not pay any attention to original context, language or idiom, except where you can contstruct etymology to reinforce the structure of your hard working, other suspecting, community.

5. Base everything you say on human experience, preferably your own, and interpret the whole of the Bible and all of history on your perception of the present.

6. Insist that you are only the instrument in the Masters Hands, that you don't want the position you have but it is a calling from God which others have confirmed. When challenged on your extravagant lifestyle and shakey morality deny it all and point out that those who challenge you challenge God - just like Moses (see Habits 4 and 5).

7. Kill your conscience through repeatedly ignoring its inner working - do not change your teaching when you feel it is violates Scripture; do not worry when people put you above God in their lives, enjoy it and do believe your self-justifications for accepting what you know to be wrong, little compromises don't add up to anything larger.

As for the eccentric ministers conference... I have several candidates for invitation! How so 'eccentric'? Sounds like fun though.

Jonny said...

In my limited experience, people are more likely to accept false teaching if they are friends with the person - the relationship overcomes the truth.

jeff said...

A quote from Harry Ironside:

"Heresy is simply a school of opinion in which something is particularly pressed out of proportion to its logical place."

Heretics go to extremes usually out of reaction to another extreme.

Jim Basinger said...

How about this which I've seen many times: removing the gospel from the gospels - i.e. seeing only law, not gospel in the 4 gospel accounts.