Friday, June 02, 2006

Is it Style Difference, or is it Heresy?

Our gang at The Gathering was challenged by leaders who accused our activities in relationship with people involved in the occult as being aberrant theological behavior, and practice. We believed we were fulfilling the Great Commission by loving those whom other Christians were afraid of. To us it appeared to be a matter of differing missiology (style of evangelism). To our accusers it appeared to be a matter of doctrine.

This has given me a new perspective on the issue of doctrine, and heresy.

Our accuser spread the rumors of our aberrant behavior throughout our denomination without warning. He did not speak to me first. He did not come with two or three brethren to discuss the issue with me. He never visited our church, or our outreach. His much information was wildly exaggerated, or completely false.

So I ask myself, "Who is aberrant here?"

It seems to me that orthodoxy in behavior is as important as orthodoxy in belief. No one was able to point out a belief we held which was unorthodox, yet when they violated the methods of correction, and information gathering outlined in scripture (2 or 3 witnesses, Matthew 18...) it was merely a "different style" of leadership, and not open to discussion

In a relational kingdom relational violations which are excused as style differences may be something far more eggregious. They may well be heresy. They certainly are aberrant behavior.

I am finding myself far more concerned with relational interaction of Christian leaders, than their doctrinal purity these days. Is this because I do not believe in the importance of doctrine? No, it is because I believe that in all its importance it still falls a far second to the inner transformation of the soul, with such beautiful attributes as humility, love, gentleness, and grace. Could it be that a heretic is not just someone with peculiar beliefs? Could it be that a heretic could also be someone who violates the relational dynamic of the kingdom of God, and justifies it as leadership style? Is this what Jesus meant when he said to "beware the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy."

If I can talk about grace till I'm blue in the face, and get the lines all straight, it still is not the same as having it working in my heart.

I have come to believe that violations of relationship by church leadership have soteriological ramifications. Those are big theological words for saying that it affects the issue of salvation, but that is another post.

This I do know: orthodoxy is connected to action in a powerful way. "For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world...."

For now, we are a part of another fellowship of churches who celebrate our style of outreach, and so we move on, but we remember the lessons leadership we have gained.


carl said...

despite the horrible situation, this is confirmation that you are on the right track. makes me tempted to become angry but if I react negatively thats just the enemies second bird in one stone that he wants to kill so I can't give in. way to stand your ground. love covers a multitude of sins.

Pastor Phil said...

There is the temptation for us daily, and we need to remind ourselves of that fact, so that we do not become like those who have wronged us.

May God give us such grace!

Matt Stone said...


One of my mates got white anted in a similar way. My sympathies are with you.

Came across you through Mike BTW. Blogging from

Pastor Phil said...

Good to e-meet you Matt. Which Mike? THere are a couple to choose from. Earthsea or Cern or ?

Love your blogs.

I am assuming you know John Morehead as well.

White anted? Sorry I don't speak Aussie.