The Spirit of Christianity is Hereticism
If Jesus was shy about His heretical ideas, there’d be no Christianity.
By Hotep anthony
It’s lonely, and often a bit upsetting, being told that you're “not Christian enough” or “not saved” because of the way you think. I’ve left The Church on several occasions now because of such accusations, yet there has always been something that pulled me back in.
Ironically, that something is the same something that unites The Christian Church altogether. That is, the character and message of Jesus Christ. Jesus, who was arrested, brutalized, and killed on charges of heresy and blasphemy by the will of the people and a form of “the Church”. He risked his comfort, happiness, and ultimately his life in pursuit of making sure that the people he cared about understood the fullness of what it meant to be a follower of God. Jesus was so concerned about the legalism and spoon-fed religion that was rampant in his community that he felt the divine imperative to oppose it. The spirit of Christianity is hereticism.
In fact, you follow in Jesus's footsteps every time you question Christianity: You oppose what you know to be untrue, and question what might not be. Not so you can feel smart, or cool, or win the infamous Facebook Debate, but because you genuinely care about truth, believe in our God-given perceptual and rational faculties, and believe that truth is good. The pursuit of truth is something that a large swath of “the Church nowadays” seems to have forgone, placing feel-good messaging in its stead.
You oppose what you know to be untrue, and question what might not be. Not so you can feel smart, or cool, or win the infamous Facebook Debate, but because you genuinely care about truth
If Jesus was shy about His heretical ideas, there’d be no Christianity. If Paul was overly-concerned about heretical thoughts, Christianity would not have spread the way it did. If Martin Luther did not openly rebel against The Church, we’d still be trying to pay our way into Heaven via indulgences. If Galileo didn’t fight against The Church, we’d still think that Earth was the center of the universe. You get the point.
For example, I’m about to lose some of you right here: I don’t get irritated by much, but one statement that I almost physically can’t stand is “The earth was created in six literal days.” Okay, to those of you still with me, thank you, and maybe you’ve had your own concerns about this statement.
I try to avoid churches that insist on Young Earth Creationism. But recently I found myself in what appeared to be a very progressive church by appearance, yet anything but by theology. Not even 5 minutes into the pastor’s sermon, and those 8 cringe-worthy words boldly flew out of his mouth: “The earth was created in six literal days”. Without even thinking, I chuckled. Apparently, chuckling is an auto-response I have when I experience a situation that causes me to feel a fusion of disbelief and disappointment. I quickly regained myself and looked around to make sure no one was looking at me, and then I got up and proceeded to the bathroom. I would've left completely, however I was there with a friend. After I regained my composure in the bathroom, I returned to my pew and tried to refrain from making any more sudden outbursts lest I offend the congregation. But, at the expense of absorbing any of the message that was taught that day, the only thing I could think during thetwo-hour sermon was “How can anyone actually believe this?”
Now, does me not believing in the six-day creation story make me a heretic? Well, to answer that we must first take a look at what it means to be a heretic
Definition: a person holding an opinion at odds with what is generally accepted.
Synonyms: dissenter, nonconformist, apostate, freethinker
It turns out that I am a heretic, at least in the context of traditional, evangelical Christian culture. If you know me, then you’d agree that this definition not only defines my religious views, but my societal and cultural views as well. Some people call me a skeptic, a contrarian. They’re not wrong. The literal six-day creation story is not the only thing I disagree with The Church on (that will become apparent as you continue to read more of my articles). But I also know that I am not alone on this front. Western people are leaving The Church in droves (if not by label then by practice) due to, what I would consider, rigid and outdated theology. In fact, if you’re somehow still reading this, then you probably have had a few heretical thoughts of your own but were never quite sure what to do with them.
I believe that if someone is to be brave enough to ask tough questions, they will inevitably be labeled a heretic. But as a heretic myself, I often wonder: Why is it that so few people are willing to ask questions? Why do people try to silence me when I do ask these questions? Why is it that I’m looked at like I’m the crazy one, but the people who believe in talking snakes are regarded as pillars of sanity? And most importantly, can I even call myself a Christian if I don’t believe in the Bible the way that the rest of The Church does?
If someone is to be brave enough to ask tough questions, they will inevitably be labeled a heretic.
And sure, logically follow my line of questioning: Does that mean you can be a Christian and believe that premarital sex is acceptable? Does that mean that you can be a Christian and believe that God does not love everyone equally? I don’t know. But these are discussions that need to be had, and sometimes, or rather more often than not, “heretical” questions come from honest places.
So what do you do with your heretical thoughts? You embrace them. It’s absolutely fine to question The Church, your pastors, and religious teachers. In fact, it’s more than fine, it’s absolutely necessary for The Church to stay relevant. We’ve seen what happens to people who aren’t bold enough to ask questions. Don’t drink the Kool-aid. The Church does not have all the answers, and there is much more to life than basic Christian doctrine. Do your research, engage in debate, risk being wrong, do all these things in pursuit of greater truth, and in turn a greater love.