This post forms part of a synchroblog, “Emerging Heresy”. For other contributors, see below.
Now I’m just a scullery etymologist (someone interested in words) but right up front I’d like to cut to the meaning of this word heresy, as supplied by wikipedia:
The word “heresy” comes from the Greek αἵρεσις, hairesis (from αἱρέομαι, haireomai, “choose”).
In actual usage then, it indicates either “a choice of beliefs or a faction of believers”. Do read the whole article; it lays a good foundation of this discussion.
If we can accept that heresy simply means choice, then I would propose that any authentic act of faith, or a decision to live within a certain myth, amounts to heresy.
Many of the most powerful such acts of faith have to do not with mere intellectual assent to an idea, but a whole hearted giving over of oneself to another, often without any guarantees. The realm of this sacrifice is generally accepted to be that of spirituality and religion.
All religious traditions comprise of orthodoxies and the heresies which challenge those orthodoxies. I use the word religious broadly in the Paul Tillich sense – “ultimate concern”. So our ultimate concern may be religion, but it may be science, philosophy, art, or other more problematic endeavours such as commerce or even war. But the heresy will always boil down to one party dissenting an orthodoxy, and paying the price of exclusion. This price may be simple eschewing, but it may involve the loss of livelihood or even life.
Being branded heretical often leads to a wholly new state of being, in which all reliance on an orthodoxy is shedded and a new, authentic faith is born.
One of the most powerful illustrations of this principle comes from the Gospel of Matthew where Simon Peter makes his confession of Christ:
Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.
This for me is an expression of ultimate heresy, being in the context of Roman Occupation where Caesar was considered Lord. In accepting the Lordship of Christ, Simon Peter is expressing his opinion, his heresy, that Christ is Lord.
I do not want to expand on the implications of this here, nor comment on how “Christianity” has hijacked and for the most part been the primary creator of the so-called “heretical”, in its deeply corrupted notions of the truths brought into being through Jesus.
And neither do I want to rubber stamp the heretical as automatically correct, because that would be a short sighted and reactionary view indeed.
I simply want to acknowledge, like Jesus did to Simon, the a blessing brought to us via that which orthodoxy deems heretical.
Contributors to the synchroblog:
Cobusvw – Conversing with the heretics
FakeExpressionsOfTheUnknown Who’s Heresy
Liquid Light – Coming out a heretic emerges
Mike Smith – Emerging Heresy
Roger Saner Towards a heretical orthodoxy
Ryan Peters – Calling the “H” word and dropping the “H” bomb
Steve Hayes Cult
Tim Victor – Confessions of a heretic