Sunday, December 21, 2008

we need more heresy

David Hayward, the (always) "naked pastor," notes:

I’ve met recently with a couple of friends who have left the local church and the faith as well. I love them, totally respect them, and listen hard to what they are saying. I’m interested in what they are reading and what they believe now. I’m fascinated by it. I think it is important for me to listen to what they believe and why. I think it is crucial to listen to what Hitchens and Harris and Dawkins are saying. I think it is necessary for me to listen to what science is saying. Evolutionists. Mystics. New Agers. Universalists. Syncretists. Neo-Gnostics. Everyone.

....You know, in the earliest church, the Fathers contested with people with differing views as though they were a diverse and dissenting part of the larger community. I think, for instance, Irenaeus, when he challenged the Gnostics, betrayed a humble deference toward them. At the earliest point there was no clear line of division that separated the “heretics” from the “orthodox”. This came later with the councils and creeds. They mingled together in the same communities and churches. I personally think it is important to work towards a clear theology. Faith seeks understanding. But I also believe it is important and even required by charity to permit all voices an audience and to see all people and opinions as typical of a diverse community striving towards love and health.

When you think of it, when Paul said in the Corinthian correspondence that one prophet should speak; then when another stands up to speak the first one should be quiet and sit down; and that the content of what they say is held up to scrutiny, discerned and judged by the community… wasn’t Paul implicitly giving room for heresy? The root of heresy literally means an opinion that is contrary to another. Later it came to mean a belief that is contrary to the orthodox doctrine or the most popularly held opinion. I think we need to listen to more apparently “heretical” views because I personally believe that much of what is popularly held as true is in fact false and needs to be challenged by opposing views.

-David Hayward, Differences, Dissent and Division

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Hey, thanks for engaging the conversation!