Vol.VII No.VIII Pg.1
October 1970

Behold, The Heretic!

Robert F. Turner

The Greek word hairesis is translated heresy and sect in the New Testament. the close relative of the word is used in Matt. 12:18 — a quotation from Isaiah concerning Christ — with no bad connotation. But hairesis obtained a bad character because of the harm done by self-willed choice — stubborn determination to have my way or bust — something!!

Vines Expository Dictionary says. Denotes (a) a choosing. choice; then that which is chosen, and hence, an opinion, especially a self-willed opinion, which is substituted for submission to the power of truth, and leads to division and the formation of sects.... Such erroneous opinions are frequently the outcome of personal preference or the prospect of advantage. (See Heresy)

Heresy implies a standard or norm. The Jews called Paul an heretic, and from their point of view so he was. (Acts 24:5, 14). But with truth as the standard, Pauls teaching was certainly not heretical. In fact, it was the sectarian concept of the Jews that led them to call Paul a heretic. We have accepted the very root of sectarianism when we call heresy all which does not conform to our party doctrine, or is not in the mainstream of our movement. (2 Cor. 10:12 -f. See P. T., Mar. 70)

Heresy has to do with doctrinal error — but, it is not simply an honest difference in understanding, even though the one differing be in error. We do not say this to excuse the error, nor to say that because it is honest it is no error. We just say that the error is not heresy while an honest, objective search for truth continues and the attitude is humble and submissive. Nor will a sect be formed while such attitudes prevail.

There is a vast difference in the opinionated, self-willed ravings of the sectarian spirit, and the firm conviction of an honest truth-seeker. Nor is raving a part of the definition. Many sectarians simply withdraw into their smug party shells, thinking to avoid the searching light of Gods truth. But final judgement will roll the rocks (Rev. 6:16 -f), and then Behold, the Heretics!!