Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Heresy: A catechism question

The following answer is by Mike Horton. I thought that it was helpful to put it into the form of a catechism question:
Q. What is heresy?

A. Heresy is any teaching that directly contradicts the clear and direct witness of the Scriptures on a point of salvific importance.


Anonymous said...

The problem is, I fear, that many things are said to be of "salvific importance" that sometimes just shouldn't be.

Bill Hornbeck said...

In The Five Points of Calvinism in the Light of Scripture by Duane Edward Smith, 2nd Edition, Baker Books, 2003, pages 13-14, it is stated: "... in 1618, a National Synod of the Church was convened in Dort to examine the teachings of Arminius in the light of Scripture. After 154 earnest sessions, which lasted seven months the Five Points of Arminianism were found contrary to Scripture and declared heretical." (Emphasis added.).

As you know, heretical is another term for heresy, and such heresy was considered so important to consider that this National synod of the church (which was international in composition) was held to consider it and ultimately to refute it. The Canons of Dort, one of the Reformed confessions, is the fruit of this labor. It is short and easily readable and understandable. Here is one link to it -

It seems that the Five Points of Arminianism fits within the this definition of heresy:
1. It is a teaching that directly contradicts the clear and direct witness of the Scriptures. and
2. It is of "salvic importance". Both the Five Points of Arminianism and the Five Points of Calvinism deal with the most fundamental points of how one is saved (salvation).

Yet, it is disappointing that much of what can be termed Protestant seem hesitant to label Arminianism as heresy.

Thank you for this post.

Anonymous said...

Wow, that is a good point. As has been pointed out, it seems today that heresy is a most 'irrelevant' category. And furthermore, dubbing anything as heretical, for all intents and purposes, seems (in practice) nearly impossible. How can that be?

Nick Mackison said...

Martin, just got your book. It's fresh, readable, original and faithful. Top drawer. Thanks for your efforts on behalf of the body of Christ.

Martin Downes said...

Thanks Nick