"Always after a defeat and a respite,
the Shadow takes another shape and grows again"
Gandalf the Grey
Why do heresies persist?
Church history tells the story of the battle between truth and error. Heresies arise, gain a following, are opposed and refuted from Scripture, and then the Church moves on and advances in the truth. Because of this we have great statements like the Nicene Creed and the Definition of Chalcedon.
But if these errors have been dealt with in the past why do they come back again and again? Why do people today believe old heresies? There are three reasons.
1. The devil still deceives people into believing heresies by using human instruments to promote attractive and plausible teaching. He will continue to do this until Christ returns in glory.
2. The warnings and lessons from history are ignored or unknown. If we are ignorant of the past we will fail to see that heresies that today appear new, innovative and interesting are as old as dirt. Many of the errors finding a home in evangelicalism today were tried and found wanting by our great-great-grandfathers in the faith at the bar of Scripture.
3. Throughout history those who deny the truth and choose a different gospel are limited in the options available to them.
In his study of heresies Harold Brown concluded that “over and over again, in widely separated cultures, in different centuries, the same basic misunderstandings and misinterpretations of the person and work of Christ and his message reappear. The persistence of the same stimulus, so to speak, repeatedly produces the same or similar reactions.”