Saturday, October 07, 2006
Heresy always affects morality
Chesterton said that "heresy always affects morality, if it is heretical enough." And he was right. But there is a danger with that statement. The danger I think is that we will form in our minds a narrow and set idea of what that immorality will be. And, based on that assumption, we will expect those moving into heresy to be immoral only in that particular way. Otherwise what do you do when you find out that of Fautus Socinus was considered to be morally upright? You would expect the opposite wouldn't you?
But there is more to it than a simple, straightforward, moral failure. This is for two reasons.
1. There can be a logical connection between the particular form of error and the way that sin finds expression.
2. A refusal to be corrected, and to hold on to views that deviate from the gospel, is itself a form of immorality.
Clinging to uncorrected false ideas, in the face of refutation, and to persist in promoting them is an ominous position to be in.
'Heresy was treated by the early church as the concern not only of doctrinal theology, but also of moral theology, of canon law, and finally of civil law as well.
This was not only because of the stock accusation that false doctrine led to "all those kinds of forbidden deeds of which the Scriptures assure us that 'they who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God,' " but because of the claim that the invention and especially the propagation of false doctrine were due to "a vainglory that has preoccupied their mind (Irenaeus)."
Pelikan, Emergence, p. 71