The Virtue of Heresy

In every age of the church, God has thrown heresy at the church. Whether the heresies are fast-balls, curves, sliders, or spit-balls, the idea is to improve the church’s batting average. In the early church, the issues surrounded the person and work of Christ, as well as issues about the Trinity. The result was the Nicene Creed and the Chalcedonian orthodoxy. After that, it came to the doctrine of man. Pelagianism forced the church to reckon with the sinfulness of man, and emphasize that man cannot save himself, but must be saved by grace. In the time of the Reformation, indulgences, papal authority, Mariology, and transubstantiation forced the church to deal with idolatry, Scripture, and justification by faith alone. In the early twentieth century, Enlightenment philosophy (or should it be more accurately entitled Endarkenment misosophy?) forced the church to consider Scripture yet again, and defend the idea of God’s supernatural power, and the infallibility of Scripture.

And now, we have the New Perspective on Paul, which is forcing the church to consider the doctrine of justification by faith alone. This is great for the church. 20 years ago, there were hardly any new books available on justification. Now, there is a rather large cottage industry in such books.

We also have the Federal Vision, which is forcing the church to consider the doctrines of election, baptism, justification, perseverance, and covenant all over again. This is all to the good. The church will emerge stronger because of these struggles. After all, Jesus is the Head of His church.