Christianity Today ran a piece that noted 3 heresies* Evangelical Christians were most likely to believe. They were:
Jesus was not truly human
Our behavior does not matter
Racism is gone
The first point was eye opening to me, because it shows how we tend to overreact to certain questions. In defense of Jesus divinity, we imply that Jesus borrowed his humanity for a period of time, like how I borrowed a tux for my wedding. Contrary to this false notion, Jesus became fully man and if we place our trust in him, we are assured that we will be coheirs with Jesus.
The second point is denying that character matters, that we can be saved without any sanctification. In my younger days (perhaps 10 years ago or so), I used to think Jesus could be your Savior (mere fire insurance) but not necessarily your Lord (behavior does not matter). I’ve since backtracked on that idea and find that statement completely idiotic (sorry, 20 year old Jeremy!) because sanctification matters. My character will never be perfect, but it needs to be changed because of my present standing with Christ.
The final point is the belief that we are in a post-racial society. I believe that we have not fully arrived at the peaceful place of racial and ethnic harmony. There is still deep-seated racial animosity, even within the Christian Church, and while Christ reconciled us to God, the reconciliation with each other is not yet complete.
This article made me think, what is our favorite heresy as evangelicals?
For me, I think we are prone to enter into Pelagianism— that we can pull ourselves up with our own bootstraps and make our way into God’s favor. Our national heritage sets us up for this false theology, especially given our immigrant, free-market culture. But the narrative of Scripture is forceful in articulating that we are reconciled to God in Christ out of his abundant mercy. As Paul would say, we were dead in our sins, but God made us alive. We cannot earn or work our way into God’s favor, instead it is an unmerited gift from God.
What heresies do you find evangelicals are prone to fall into?
*Heresy can be defined this way: Ideas achieve status of heresy in Christian tradition because they are thought by the Church to be wrong rather than right teaching (doctrine). A heretic is a baptized person who obstinately denies or doubts a truth which the Church teaches mut be believed because it is part of the one, divinely revealed, and catholic (universally valid) Christian faith. (From Heresies and How to Avoid Them)
Contemporary American Evangelicalism leads to many different things, both good and bad. Whenever I heard about the Apocrypha I often tied it with a negative reaction. Everybody knows that it is not truly Scripture like those Roman Catholics would have us believe! Instead, it is something that should be removed from our Bibles and taken away from our collective sight. Turns out this is just throwing out the Maccabean revolt with the bathwater.
Using the devotional device of the Daily Office (i.e., devotional plan) for the Anglican Book of Common Prayer it led me into reading I Maccabees as a part of this plan. (Typically, you read Psalms and passages from the Old Testament, New Testament and Gospels to start and end your day. ) And as I have been working through the text of I Maccabees, I have encountered some positive examples. I have discovered new stories about having zeal for God’s Law. When the Greek ruler stopped the worship of God, Matthias and his sons wouldn’t take it anymore. Instead of passively standing by, they rose up to throw the shackles off their nation. Their zeal led to liberation and provoked in me to be more passionate toward devoting myself to the Kingdom of God.
This read-through led to making me wonder why I have been so obstinate in reading these books. After all, Evangelicals read devotional literature all the time! Why shouldn’t I place these books up on the same level as reading CS Lewis, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Oswald Chamber and other Christian writers? If we read subpar books like from certain authors who write about having your best life now, why can’t we read literature to help our faith that is rooted in history and depth?
So basically put, I have decided that I’m going to get over it and read the Apocrypha (which is not on par with Scripture but is still helpful in growth).
So, what have you gotten over in your faith?