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Blog

On Heresy 1.1

Thomas Whitley

How My View of the Orthodoxy/Heresy Dichotomy Influences My Views on Universalism As I thought about just how to broach the topic of universalism on my blog, I gathered a multitude of resources and research from diverse arenas, including from those who vehemently argue against universalism to those who make universalism look conservative. So, I gathered all of this research and waited. I had been asked weeks ago to address the issue and was not going to touch the topic knowing how controversial it is. This week has proven my point of just how divisive the issue can be for many people, but it also made me think much more seriously about posting on the issue, yet I continued to wait. As this post by Rachel Held Evans says, waiting is typically a good idea when writing about controversial topics.

I decided I was going to post on the topic because it is something that people have questions about. No longer is everyone satisfied by what they learned growing up in Sunday School. No longer are people satisfied by believing that Gandhi is going to be in Hell next to Hitler. Yet, as I continued to wait (not very patiently), I realized that while universalism is a very important topic to discuss, it is a sub-topic of something larger: heresy.

Now, when I say “heresy” I do not actually mean “wrong belief” as many do. In fact, the word literally means “adherence to a religious opinion contrary to church dogma.” When the correct definition is used, universalism is indeed heresy, for it is contrary to church dogma. While I am interested in discussions surrounding exclusivism, inclusivism, universalism, the existence or non-existence of heaven and/or hell, etc. I am far more interested in heresy. By that I mean that I am intrigued by how something gets to be called heresy - and therefore not orthodoxy - and why that so affects many people’s opinion of any particular issue. So, in the next two posts I will address the origins of “heresy,” how the church today uses it to maintain the status quo, and what this means for me.