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Heresy in the Church - by C. Matthew McMahon

Historical Theology Articles

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“The quickest way to prevent heresy is to teach all truths, and the most certain way of refuting it is to expose them all.”
Blaise Pascal

The Puritans were masters of defending the Gospel against the attacks of those who sought an attempt at destroying the Christian faith. They wrote masterful treatises (writings characterized by sound biblical arguments, biblical rationalism and logic) by which many great polemical and apologetic arguments are still helpful today.

For all intents and purposes, I do pray for those who may be entrenched in some type of false doctrine, and for those who may have become deceived into believing some sort of heresy. My prayer is that they may see the biblical light which shines in the darkness, and to repent of their heresy and come to an understanding of the biblical record which promotes its truth, and true Christian piety. The Bible exposes that which is false, and nurtures those in the truth.

“Add thou not unto His words, lest He reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.” Proverbs 30:6

Heresy takes only a moment to enter into the church, yet it takes many years to get it out. May we be on guard against such things.

“But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies.” 2 Peter 2:1

The following is an article comprised of excerpts from “The Nature and Danger of Heresies” by Obadiah Sedgwick, published by Soli Deo Gloria Publications.

What is Heresy?:

The word “heresy” admits a threefold signification and use. 1) Sometimes it is taken for any new and select opinion, contrary to the common and usually-received opinions of other men; in which the word “heresy” may sometimes bear a good construction, Acts 24:14, “For after that which the Jews called heresy, did Paul worship the God of his fathers.” 2) Sometimes it is taken for any false opinion whatsoever, wherein a person recedes from any divine truth, and, thereby, creates division, sects, and contentions. 3) But strictly among divines, it is taken for some notorious, false, and perverse opinion, opposing and subverting the faith once delivered to the saints, as Jude says, or overthrowing the form of wholesome words, as Paul says.
Thus, it may be described: “Heresy is an erroneous or false opinion, repugnant unto and subverting the doctrine of faith revealed in the Word as necessary unto salvation; and obstinately maintained and perniciously adhered unto by a professed Christian.
To make an erroneous opinion amount to heresy, two things must occur: 1) The error must be about faith; matters of divine faith. 2) It must be against the faith. This type of error is heresy two fold: 1) When it is not concordant to every truth in Scripture, and 2) When it is repugnant to the truth, or any truth, which is necessary to salvation, and here, no doubt, the error against faith will prove to be heresy.

Of the Danger of Heresies:

1) The Scriptures charge sin, perniciousness, and damnation upon them. Paul reckons them among those works of the flesh which shut persons out of the Kingdom of God (Galatians 5:20-21). Peter calls them pernicious and damnable, and such as bring swift destruction; and, speaking of the authors of them, he says that their damnation slumbers not (2 Peter 2:1-3).
2) Heresies are compared in Scripture sometimes to gangrene or canker, 2 Timothy 2:17, “Their word will eat as doth a canker.” The canker is an invading ulcer, creeping from joint to joint, corrupting one part after another till, at length, it eats out the very heart and life.
3) Jesus Christ and His apostles give special charges and caveats against them, to take heed and beware of them, which they never would have done had they not been dangerous. Mark 8:15, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees.” Matthew 7:15, “Beware of False Prophets.” Philippians 3:2, “Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision.” 2 Peter 3:17, “Beware, lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness.”

The Greatness of the Danger of Heresies:
Every heretical opinion buys a soul or stabs a soul. Its stabs the soul of him who maintains it, and still trades it on to murder more souls. Heresy turns the glory of God into a lie. O sirs, what is God without truth? And what is all the goodness of the Gospel without truth? And what is the fabric of man’s salvation without truth? Truth is, as it were, the pin, the clasp, the knot that ties all. And a church is never more close to dying when it gives up the truth. Heresy is like the circles in a pond; one begets another, the smaller to the greater. So one heresy begets another, a lesser to a greater.

10 chief heresies:
1. The Scriptures of the Old and New Testament do not bind us Christians.
2. That God never loved one man more than another before the world, and that all the decrees are conditional.
3. That there is no original sin.
4. That the will of man is still free.
5. That the saints may fall totally and finally from grace.
6. That Christ died alike for all, yea, that his salvific virtue of His death extends to all the reprobates as well as the elect, yea, to the very devils as well as unto men.
7. That Jesus Christ came into the world not for satisfaction, but for publication; not to procure for us and to us the love of God, but only to be a glorious Publisher of the Gospel.
8. That God is not displeased at all if His children sin.
9. That the doctrine of repentance is a soul destroying doctrine.
10. That the souls of men are not immortal but mortal.

Take Heed:
Let everyone take heed lest he be carried away with any part of this flood of heresy. Be on guard that you are not light or proud Christians. Be on guard that you are not loose Christians. If ungodliness is in the heart, it will not be hard for error to get into the head. Take heed that you are not weak Christians. Take heed that you are not , worldly, nor hypocritical, nor unstable. Let everyone strengthen his soul that he may stand and withstand, and not be carried away. Take all in word: A judgment solidly principled, a heart sincerely renewed, a faith truly bottomed, truth and love of it cordially matched; profession and practice well joined, a fear of ourselves and dependence upon God still maintained, God’s ordinances and the society of the humble and growing Christians still frequented, watchfulness and prayer still continued are the best directives that I can deliver to keep us in the truth, and the best preservatives that I know to keep us from error.

Obadiah Sedgwick is biblically correct. The information above ought to be wisely heeded. Heresy is cancer of the mind. It destroys churches, souls, pastors, deacons, men, women, and the children who grow up to be them. It has infected contemporary Christendom more than most are aware of, simply because they are not reading their Bibles. May the God of understanding bring those who are in error to the truth of His Word, for the glory of His Son.

“My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge” Hosea 4:6.

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