On Heresy

At the 2002 Auburn Avenue Presbyterian Pastors Conference various positions were advocated, like paedocommunion, which directly contradict the Reformed faith and practice as it is represented in such historic confessions as the Westminster Standards. Covenant Presbytery of the RPCUS responded to the Conference by issuing a call for repentance. The Consistory of Messiah's Congregation, where Rev. Schlissel (one of the Conference pastors) labors, has issued a reply to the charges of Covenant Presbytery; Christ Church where Rev. Wilson (another Conference pastor) labors has issued a response; and the session of Auburn Avenue Presbyterian Church, where Rev. Wilkins labors, has issued their response. Additionally, Rev. Andrew Sandlin defends the ministers of this Conference against the charge of 'heresy' in various articles. The responses and Rev. Sandlin's articles are posted on their various web sites.

Before commenting upon the Conference speakers and the response of the RPCUS to them, it is important that we have a sound, Biblical definition of the term "heresy," since the Conference speakers are charged with promoting heresy. Scripturally speaking, heresy is an aberration in doctrine and course which wrongly causes division in the visible church of Christ is a heresy. This definition is perhaps most clearly seen in I Corinthians 11:18-19: "...I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it. For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you." All heresies involve issues about which the Bible does not permit the Church to compromise. Of course, some heresies are much more serious in nature than others. Indeed, some heresies are damnable heresies. ("But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.") But given the importance of the unity of Christ's body, we should not underestimate the importance of avoiding heresy of any kind, whether damnable or not.