The Other Day I Met A “Heretic”.

No, it wasn’t Rob Bell (although I’d love to meet him too).

He is a Canadian, Orthodox theologian whom I had the privelege of meeting at a Methodist church in South Africa a few weeks ago. This man does not believe that Jesus died to appease us from God’s wrath and save us from God’s justice. In terms of divine judgement and the hell discussion he considers himself a “hopeful inclusivist” and has written a book about it. Despite growing up in and studying in an evangelical setting he is now a part of the Orthodox Christian community. These three things would give cause for many to label him a heretic in the first degree. In fact it didn’t take much online searching to find this quote from an admirer’s blog. “Stay away from Brad Jersak: he is one of the wolves that Jesus warned us about; he consistently attacks and condemns orthodox biblical Christianity in his writing and ‘ministry’ and he openly associates with enemies of the gospel as if they are brothers.”

Yet when I heard this man preach about the Cross of Christ I was ignited with fresh passion and admiration for the beauty of the good news of Jesus. As he touched my shoulders and looked into my eyes I felt and saw the Love of God. I saw a man who had given up some of his vacation time to minister to a few dozen people in a foreign country on a Sunday evening. He led us through a “listening prayer” exercise where many (including myself) were lifted of burdens we were never meant to carry. A 12 year old boy came up afterwards and testified as to how God had completely removed something he had been struggling with for almost half of his life! This man was full of joy that Jesus had set another person free. Brad has an extensive knowledge of the Bible and church history and went out of his way to speak to me and my friends about weighty matters when he could have just gone home.

Does that sound like a wolf in sheep’s clothing to you?

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Why do we in the church continue to go on the “heresy hunt” and discredit each other? Surely it breaks God’s heart to see his children throwing around hurtful, personal insults at each other, instead of building one another up and sharpening each other with humble discussion. Perhaps it would be good for us to remember Jesus’ teaching that we will be “judged in the same way we judge others.” (Matthew 7:2).

My wife and I recently read an article which called the bestselling novel “The Shack” blatant idolatry and borderline heresy. The author urged people not to flock to their local cinema and watch the book’s film adaption. We couldn’t help but wonder how many people would heed this man’s advice and instead go and watch a movie like “Fifty Shades Darker” or something similar!

Perhaps we are putting our energy in the wrong place.

shack

Yes, I know that there are people in the world doing questionable things in the name of Jesus. There are people who seem to be gaining a lot of money, power and recognition in the name of a God who celebrates servanthood and identifies with the poor and lowly. I’m not saying we should completely ignore calling others to accountability. However, if we say that everyone who doesn’t believe the basics of what we believe is a heretic we are actively detroying ourselves and the work of God in our world.

The great Swiss Catholic theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar wrote that “Even if a unity of faith is not possible, a unity of love is.” 

Amen to that.

Do you care more about defending truth or becoming love? Do you spend more time building others up or cutting others down? How do you interact with people of contrasting opinions, especially on social media and on the internet?

To reap the fruit of Brad Jersak’s ministry check out the following:

http://www.clarion-journal.com/clarion_journal_of_spirit/2011/05/bradj-jersak-who-you-callin-a-universalist.html

http://www.bradjersak.com

 

 

 

 

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2 thoughts on “The Other Day I Met A “Heretic”.

  1. My dear brother Jon,

    I heartily disagree with some of the things you’ve written here.

    “If we say that everyone who doesn’t believe the basics of what we believe is a heretic we are actively destroying ourselves and the work of God…” If someone doesn’t believe the basics of the gospel message, what the bible clearly lays out as the centre of our faith, then they’re not a Christian, and it becomes meaningless to talk about “unity”. Our unity is in Christ, the biblical Christ. If someone is willing to throw away the doctrine of hell, the cross makes little if any sense. If Jesus wasn’t paying the penalty for our sins, then MANY central truths in our bible become meaningless. For instance, “if we confess our sins he is faithful and JUST to forgive us and cleanse us from unrighteousness.” If we take away penal substitutionary atonement from the cross, then God cannot be JUST in forgiving us. There are a lot of other verses I could reference here as well to further illustrate, but I won’t.

    To be clear, I loathe the “heresy police” culture of online Christianity. I share your concern for Christians missing fundamental truths to “strain out a gnat” as Jesus said, but some doctrines are too fundamental to be wishy washy on. The doctrine of hell is one of those.

    Truth and love always have to function together. If they are ever separated from each other, they instantly lose their meaning. Truth without love is legalism, and love without truth is license – both are dangerous ditches to be in.

    love you very much:)

    Joel

    Like

    • Thanks for commenting Joel! I always love hearing your perspective on things.

      I completely agree that “truth and love always function together”! I probably should have asked “Do you care more about defending truth or becoming like Love.”

      I understand your perspective about hell and the atonement. And by no means would I say I have come to concrete conclusions on the issues. However I do think that there are other valid perspectives that should be considered and not ignored! To my understanding the original “satisfaction theory” was only made widespread by Anselm in the 11th century. The Penal substitution model wasn’t fully recognized until Calvin and the reformers polished it in the 16th century. So what did Christians believe about the death of Christ for the first 1000 years of our faith? I’d really reccomend N.T. Wright’s latest book “The Day the Revoloution Began: Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus’ Crucifixion.” which I’m reading now. It deals with these sort of questions.

      I love you too Joel. Thanks for joining in on the discussion. As I said, I really respect you and your opinions.

      Jon

      Like

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