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Is it unloving to call someone a heretic?

If you just say the words, Emerging or Emergent Church, you are likely to be met with a whole host of attitudes and opinions.  Many, like myself, have strong thoughts on the emerging church and many have no idea what the emerging/emergent church is.  One of the most helpful articles I have read in recent years, regarding the emerging and emergent church, was written by Mark Driscoll.  You can read that article here.  In this article, Driscoll, as many rightly do today, draw a distinction between emerging and emergent.  I will not go into all the details here, as you can read all about it in Driscoll’s article, but the bottom line is that there are a group of leaders in the emergent church who have clearly abandoned biblical orthodoxy. 

One of those leaders is a pastor named Doug Pagitt.  He is the pastor of Solomon’s Porch, a church that meets in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  Over the years I have dialogued a little with Doug and it is simply clear that he and I do not see eye to eye on the core doctrines of the faith.  He has written several books that attempt to lay out his beliefs, however, after reading them, you might only grow more confused about what he actually does believe.  Occasionally, I will check his blog just to see if anything new has developed and sometimes, I have taken the liberty to contribute to his discussions. 

A couple of weeks ago, Doug had a guest on his radio show that has been an open critic of Doug’s theology.  When you click on the link below, you can listen to the interview and follow the conversation through the posts that were published.  There is more I could say, but let me summarize by saying this:  If is obvious from the Scripture that there is truth and error.  We even see this from the mouth of the Lord Jesus Himself, when He rebuked those who who were teaching false doctrine.  Of course, Paul also hammered on those who taught false doctrine as well.  Anyone who has ever read the Bible knows that false teachers were not lovingly spoken to.  In fact, Jesus’ harshest words were for those who taught and practiced wrong theology.  As you will see in this discussion, the thrust of the debate is that Doug and others do not understand why people are so critical of him and his teaching.  Some, as I do, call him a heretic because he is leading people away from the absolute truth of the Gospel.  Doug openly denies original sin; the substitutionary, atoning work of Jesus on the Cross; he is an open theist that does not believe in a literal heaven or hell; and from what I can tell is a universalist (although he will not clearly speak to that issue when asked).  From what I have read and heard from Doug, he is a false teacher that needs to be confronted.  I do not think you should confront hatefully, but you should also not confront lightly either.  He is teaching a false gospel and that is something that should not be tolerated, no matter how unloving it may appear.

As you will see, there are many posts in this discussion,many of which I myself do not agree with.  In fact, I do not even know any of the people in this discussion.  All I would like you to do would be to listen to portions of the radio interview and then read the comments.  Keep in mind, the Scripture never advocates tolerance for false doctrine and false teaching.  The most unloving thing Christians can do is allow false doctrine to be spread.  Here is the link to the discussion.  Let me know what you think.

Jeremy Freeman

Author: Jeremy Freeman

View more articles by Jeremy Freeman.

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  • Nice post Bro,

    Is it unloving to call someone a heretic? Not in and of itself; heretic is simply a word that describes people, like this dude, who do not hold to essential Christian doctrine. Surely you can call someone a heretic in an unloving way, but I don’t think that’s really the question.

    The problem is, for Doug, the Scriptures don’t mean anything concrete, so he can just quote them how he sees fit, but when someone else tries to use them to refute him, he calls it unloving.

    Paul says, “beware of the dogs, those who do evil, the mutilators of the flesh” in Phil 3:2. He is speaking of Jewish believers (or not?) who are trying to force the status of a Jew upon Gentile believers through circumcision. I am sure these people had good intentions, and thought they were right in their judgment, yet Paul comes down on them pretty hard, as he does in Galatians and most of his other letters.

    The truth, though I’m not sure this word means much to Doug, is that their IS truth; and believers are to “contend earnestly” for that truth (Jude) and we are to “fight the good fight” of the faith. Our boy can ignore these “war” passages all he wants, but we ARE in a war, thought not against flesh and blood (Eph 6), and it seems to me that this guy is leading the front lines of the wrong side.

    Grace and Peace to the 1-1-6 (meaning those who are UN-ashamed of the gospel)

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