Lest Arius Be Offended

In Preservationist Textual Criticism by Chris ThomasLeave a Comment

For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men?  For if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.  – Galatians 1:10 

 

  1. Introduction
  2. What is heresy?
  3. Objection to calling RTC advocates heretics
  4. The revolving door for heresy
  5. The sin of man-pleasing

Introduction.

After posting this I did expect some backlash from it’s content, but I had expected it to be from those affirming RTC and RTC advocates.  However some CVS advocates took exception to calling RTC heresy and those who advocate it heretics.  However, none of the arguments were biblical arguments; they were either fallacious appeals to emotion or to authority.  In this post, I’ll cover what is heresy as the Bible defines it, present the the main argument offered against what I said, show that it open a revolving door for all sorts of heresies, and cover the sin of man-pleasing which is the danger people making such an objection run into.

What Is Heresy?

To answer this question we turn to Obadiah Sedgwick’s The Nature and Danger of Heresies:

To find this out, you may be pleased to know, that the word heresy, admits of a threefold signification and use.

1.  Sometimes it is take fort any new and select opinion, contrary to the common and usually received opinions of other men:  in which respect the word may sometimes bear a good construction, For after that way of which the Jews called heresy, did Paul worship the God of his Fathers. (Acts 24:14)

2.  Sometimes for any false opinion whatsoever, wherein a person recedes from any divine truth, and thereby foments divisions, sects, contentions:  in which respect, dihaereticon with Isidore, is all one with divisivum.

3.  But strictly amongst the Divines, it is taken for some notorious, false, and perverse opinion, opposing and subverting the faith once delivered to the Saints, as Jude speaks, or overthrowing the form of wholesome words, as Paul speaks:  and it may be thus described:

Heresy is an erroneous or false opinion, repugnant unto and subverting of the doctrine of faith revealed in the Word, as necessary unto salvation:  And obstinately maintained, and pertinaciously adhered unto by a professed Christian.

1.  Heresy is an erroneous opinion, false judgment, or false dogma.  There is a difference between an evil work and heresy.  An evil work is one things, heresy is another thing.  In the work which a man does, there may be sin, very much sin, but properly there is not heresy.  It may be a mistake of action, but it is not an error unless it resides in the understanding… It is not light shining and working against an action or workm which raises it to be an heresy, but it must be light in the Word shining against an opinion, which must denominate it to be an heresy.

2. Heresy is an erroneous opinion concerning matters of faith.  To make an erroneous opinion amount to heresy, two things must concur.

One, that the error be about faith:  although a man does err in his opinion with the proportion of that which is knowable, such as facts of science or mathematics, yet this error is not heresy.  Heresy is an erroneous opinion not about that which is knowable, but about that which is to be believed; not about matters of human sciences, but about matters of divine faith.  But if the error be about matters of faith revealed in the Word, as that Christ isn’t God, or isn’t Man, here now the error will rise to heresy.

Two, if the error is against the faith as well as about the faith.  If it is an opinion contrary to sound doctrine, overthrowing the foundation, this will make the error into heresy.  An opinion is heresy when the opinion is contrary to the faith and to the doctrine of faith in the Scriptures.

If the opinion is adverse, is contrary to, is subversive of the faith revealed as necessary unto salvation, it is heresy and may be of either type:

Explicitly:  When it is an error that overthrows the foundation of the faith, such as denying the Godhead of Christ, redemption by Christ, or salvation by Christ.

Reductively:  If the error held to subverts another fundamental truth.  Claiming that human satisfactions to be sufficient to merit salvation subverts man’s salvation found solely upon the merits of Jesus Christ.

3. If the erroneous opinion be against anyone particular doctrinally necessary truth, that particular error will amount to heresy.  The difference between an apostate and an heretic is that the apostate turns his back from the whole truth while the heretic grapples with some truth, but denies other truth.  Therefore, though a person still retains an assent to many truths, or most truths, or all but one necessary truth, if his erroneous opinion be subversive of that one, his error will come to heresy.

4.  To make the erroneous opinion to be heretical, it is necessary that person who holds it professes to be a Christian.

5.  There must be obstinacy or dogged determination joined with that erroneous opinion which is contrary to the faith.  He that is an heretic must obstinately adhere to or cleave to his erroneous opinion.  Where the erroneous opinion does appear grossly and notoriously destructive to the razing of the foundation, it is heretical.

Objections to calling RTC advocates heretics:

The primary objection against calling RTC advocates heretics is a fallacious appeal to emotion.  Because we might offend them or others or have to explain ourselves we shouldn’t call such advocates of heresy heretics.  Nowhere do we find this view taught in Scripture.  To understand why this is just bad reasoning let’s remove from the objection the textual issue and reduce it to its basic form.

The Revolving Door for All Heresy

We should not call advocates of group X that hold to heretical opinion X heretics, because they might be offended or we might have to explain what we mean.

To see if this is a good argument we need only substitute any heretical view in place of X.  We will look at three pernicious heresies currently infecting the church.

We should not call advocates of theistic evolution heretics, because they might be offended or we might have to explain what we mean.

We should not call advocates of the Gay Christian Movement heretics, because they might be offended or we might have to explain what we mean.

We should not call Critical Race Theory advocates heretics, because they might be offended or we might have to explain what we mean.

It should be obvious from these three examples, and the damage these heresies have done to our churches, that the objection against calling RTC advocates heretics is without merit.

But to make it even clearer let’s apply it to Arius and his followers.

The Church Fathers never should have called Arius & his followers heretics, because they might have been offended or the Church Fathers might have to explain why Arius & his followers were wrong.

And now one final beating of the horse.

Paul should not have withstood Peter to his face for his dissimulation, because Peter and others might have been offended or Paul might have to explain why Peter was wrong.

The sin of man-pleasing

From Richard Baxter’s The Sin of Man-PleasingRichard Baxter’s The Sin of Man-Pleasing

The danger of not wanting to call those who obstinately advocate for Restorationist Textual Criticism heretics lest we offend some or have to explain why we say such things, is that we 1) open the door for all sorts of heresies as seen above, 2) commit the sin of man-pleasing by having more concern over offending heretics than we do with the fact that they’re promoting heresy which is known to lead to apostasy.

To quote a few passages from Richard Baxter’s book:

Direct II. Remember that the favour and pleasing of man is one of your snares, that would prevail against your pleasing God: therefore watch against the danger of it, as you must do against other earthly things.

Direct. III. Remember how silly a creature man is and that his favour can be no better than himself. The thoughts or words of a mortal worm are matters of no considerable value to us.

Direct. IV. Remember that it is the judgment of God alone, that your life or death for ever doth depend upon; and how little you are concerned in the judgment of man.

Direct. IX. If nothing else will cure this disease, at least let the impossibility of pleasing men, and attaining your ends, suffice against so fruitless an attempt. And here I shall show you how impossible it is, or, at least, a thing which you cannot reasonably expect.

Direct. XI. Remember still that the pleasing of God is your business in the world, and that in pleasing him your souls may have safety, rest, and full content, though all the world should be displeased with you. God is enough for you; and his approbation and favour is your portion and reward. How sweet and safe is the life of the sincere and upright ones, that study more to be good than to seem good, and think if God accept them that they have enough! O what a mercy is an upright heart! which renounceth the world, and all therein that stands in competition with his God; and taketh God for his God indeed even for his Lord, his Judge, his Portion, and his All: who in temptation remembereth the eye of God, and in all his duty is provoked and ruled by the will and pleasure of his Judge, and regardeth the eye and thoughts of man, but as he would do the presence of a bird or beast, unless as piety, justice, or charity, require him to have respect to man, in due subordination to God: who when men applaud him as a person of excellent holiness and goodness, is fearful and solicitous lest the all-knowing God should think otherwise of him than his applauders: and under all the censures, reproaches, and slanders of man, yea, (though through temptation good men should thus use him,) can live in peace upon the approbation of his God alone; and can rejoice in his justification by his righteous Judge and gracious Redeemer, though the inconsiderable censures of men condemn him. Verily I cannot apprehend, how any other man but this can live a life of true and solid peace and joy. If God’s approbation and favour quiet you not, nothing can rationally quiet you. If the pleasing of him does not satisfy you, though men, though good men, though all men should be displeased with you, I know not how or when you will be satisfied.

We shouldn’t be concerned with whether or not obstinate advocates of RTC, which are the only proper candidates to be addressed as heretics as I have said before, are offended by being called heretics.  We shouldn’t be concerned if laymen, having been lied to by these advocates of heresy, get offended, confused, etc.  To be so concerned is an attitude of being more concerned about the opinions of men who are either ignorant of the facts or have decided to advocate for an heresy, than about pleasing God.  The textual issue is foundational to Christianity itself because it is about whether or not Scripture will be the final authority in ALL of our reasoning.  The fundamental position of RTC is that God has lied in His word about preserving his Word.  This means God is untrustworthy.    There is no other word for this but heresy.  Most especially as this view of Scripture’s preservation has led people to apostatize. Those people who confronted with this truth and obstinately continue to affirm it and then go on to advocate for it are properly called heretics as demonstrated above by Obadiah Sedgwick.  If the attitude that calling them such when they obstinately advocate for RTC was taken by the Church Fathers regarding Arius, we would all be Arians today.  And it is this attitude that has brought damage to Christendom in the form of theistic evolution, ReVoice & the Gay Christian Movement, and the division in the body of Christ being caused by CRT advocates.

To those Confessional View of Scripture advocates offended by this post, “Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?” (Galatians 4:16)

Leave a Comment