In the past, I jokingly called myself, and was called, a heretic. Today I embrace this label.
This change came about on two fronts.
First, over the last few weeks I have read and listened to how a couple of different people defined orthodoxy and heresy. One was a reformed theologian and the other an atheist. Whether orthodoxy is right or wrong, it is the agreed upon set of beliefs determined by the majority. Of course both these people placed very different out comes for the on determined to be a heretic.
Second, some of my recent reading on church history has added fuel to the fire. See I believe that the spirit and fruit that lie behind orthodoxy is rotten. For the first 200-300 years of our faith, there was great diversity and debate over much of what it meant to be christian. As Brian McLaren puts forth in his new book, to truly be a community and a culture, what is considered TRUTH must hang in the balance between multiple view points. The early faith community dwelt in a diversity of theology. Though some were right and some were wrong, none were all right nor were any all wrong.
Three hundred years in, something changed. The empire that Jesus subverted and that persecuted the believers, first legalized this christian faith and then outlawed all other faiths. During this time, the church and state became determined to unify belief. Regardless of the creeds, the faith was not homogenized. As the emperors pushed the bishops to come to unity, they began to enforce the outcome. This rotten fruit of orthodoxy (the closing of the western mind) manifested in 385 with the first execution of a declared heretic –Priscillian of Avila.
See, Jesus told the parable of letting the wheat and tare grow together. Contrary to this, orthodoxy actively attacks what they believe to be tares and burns them at a stake.
Finally, we are told by those who are orthodox that we can ignore the actions of the church but need to listen to the beliefs they declare to be orthodox. The Holy Spirit, we are told, was actively involved with the development of the theology. What is left unsaid is that the Holy Spirit is less active in the lifes and actions of those who developed our theology.
Is God more concerned with beliefs then he about actions? Can we separate the two?
So regardless of whether I am inside or outside of orthodoxy, I choose to call myself a heretic, not because I am unorthodox but because I am anti-orthodox!