Heresy Hunter: A Case Study, Part 2

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010 at 5:28 pm

Yesterday, I set up a case study for the “heresy hunter” to think through. The “heresy hunter” has read The Shack and evaluated the view of God’s love found within (universalism). He has rejected this view of God’s love on the basis of Scripture. Now, a Christian friend of his is raving about how his view of God’s love has been changed dramatically by The Shack. I discussed the role of Scripture for correction, but since Scripture is clear about not judging, I closed with a question:

“How am I to correct without judging?”

I think humility is the key. I Timothy 2:24, above, says “in humility correcting those who are in opposition.” First, we must be aware of the limits of our own knowledge and understanding of the truth, as discussed in the first”heresy hunter” post. Second, we must be aware that we are not without sin or error. We are not without sin; we have no right to be casting stones.

This leads us to the second part of correction without judgment–that is, we should speak with love in order to edify. We are not called to judge or to cast stones to tear another down–we are called to correct in order to edify and build up. We must carefully consider both our motivation and our means in order to ascertain that what we are doing accomplishes edification.

Romans 14 speaks a great deal about this, encouraging more mature believers to accept the less mature ones and not to quibble about things that are unimportant in the grand scheme of things.

“Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things….Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way…Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another.”
~Romans 14:1, 13, 19

We should consider first the importance of the idea or teaching. Is this something that is central to the faith or is it a periphery issue? (I would say that the idea of universalism is a central issue and therefore should be addressed.) Then we should ask how we can address this in a way that does not put a stumbling block in our brother’s way. Finally, we should seek to address the issue in a way that leads to peace and edification.

There are probably a lot of different ways this can be done. Maybe it means just bringing up your own concern in the same conversation. “The Shack was an engaging book and a lot of people seem to like it a lot. I’m concerned, though, at how it conveys the idea that everyone can be saved–without talking about how Christ is the only way to salvation.” Maybe it means encouraging further study. “You mentioned a couple of days ago that you were impressed with how The Shack talks about God’s love. I was wondering if you’d like to do a Bible study with me to explore what God’s love looks like.” Maybe it means direct confrontation. “You said you liked how The Shack portrayed God’s love, but I’m concerned that it portrays a false view of God’s love. I’m afraid that the ‘nice guy’ idea of God’s love found in The Shack might blind you to the truth of God’s love as portrayed on the cross. Could we talk about this a bit more?”

I’m certainly not perfect in this respect. Sometimes I err on the side of not bringing truth (even when falsehood is very clearly leading a brother or sister into bondage). Other times I err on the side of being an unloving bringer of truth (abrasively speaking truth in a way that tears down rather than building up.) But my heart’s desire is that somehow I could learn to walk this line: truth in love, truth in love.

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Reader Comments (2):

  1. sharon says:

    I believe when the scripture says we should not judge it is in regards to where someone will be in eternity. We are told a the work of the spirit has fruit. We can be a fruit inspector. We are told to not believe everyone and everything, (you must be able to judge between sound doctrine and heresy.) I believe we cannot judge in a way that says you did this so you are going to hell. We are not the final judge.

    • bekahcubed says:

      That’s a good thought, Sharon. I think it’s definitely out of line to take Jesus’ words “Judge not, lest you be judged” as meaning that all judgment is inappropriate. Certainly, the rest of Scripture indicates that there are instances in which we should judge. Even the context of John 7 (where the “judge not” is found) indicates that judgment is not out of place–so long as you are judging yourself first. Jesus doesn’t say “Don’t take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye”. Instead, He says “Take the log out of your own eye so that you can see more clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.”

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