Being Called a Heretic…

December 26, 2011 at 8:39 AM 4 comments

It is amazing to me how many times I have been called a heretic and for a variety of reasons.  It used to bother me, but it has happened so often that it rolls off my back at this point in my life.

I’ve been referred to as a heretic for believing in the PreTrib Rapture position.  This is the belief that Jesus will call His own up to heaven with Him prior to the start of the Tribulation.  So why is that belief heretical?  For a number of reasons apparently.

First, I’m called a heretic because I am not properly preparing people to undergo the horrific troubles of the upcoming Tribulation.  I’ve allegedly adopted a laissez-faire attitude toward the Tribulation because of my PreTrib Rapture belief and therefore, I supposedly don’t care because “I’ll be gone!”

The truth is that my understanding of the PreTrib Rapture has given me a greater impetus to pray for and witness to people who are lost.  It has also given me a greater awareness of the fact that Jesus could return at any moment.  When He does, do I want Him to find me working or playing?

Second, if I am alive when the Tribulation begins, I will realize that the Rapture has not occurred and will be so devastated that I will become thoroughly confused and depressed.  This confusion and depression will cause me to inadvertently take the mark of the beast and of course we know from Revelation that anyone who takes the mark of the beast is damned forever.

The other area in which I’ve been called a heretic is in the area of the King James Version of the Bible.  I recall going to one particular KJV-Only forum where the individuals there were so callous, so caustic in their rejoinders to anyone who did not view the KJV as God’s “inspired” Word that it was very difficult to comprehend that they were Christians.  They fully believe that they are using the only inspired English translation of the Bible.  Because I do not view the KJV as actually inspired, then I am a heretic.

Now, to be sure, a heretic is someone who preaches another gospel.  This is according to Paul (cf. Galatians).  Anyone who preaches a gospel besides the one presented in Scripture is a heretic and that stands true today.

For instance, there are any numbers of cults who wrongly believe that salvation is by grace plus works.  These individuals have added to the gospel.  They teach that salvation comes by hearing through faith.  However, once we have salvation, we must continue to work for it in order for it to remain with us.  Failing to do this, we lose salvation.  So to them, while salvation is completely free and received by faith, it is kept by works.  They might disagree with me there, but that’s the reality, or so it seems to me based on what they teach as compared with Holy Writ.

Yet in today’s world, the word heretic is bandied about by many for the slightest “infraction.” It is mostly heard in the area of Eschatology – the study of End Times – and the PreTrib Rapture position is a case in point.

Frankly, I don’t believe my understanding of Eschatology plays a part in my salvation.  If we look at Romans 10:9-10 that much seems clear because Paul makes no mention of Eschatology in the requirements to become a Christian.

Those who believe that the KJV is actually inspired as the original autographs were inspired are, in my opinion, completely wrong.  Having said that, let me also point out that I really enjoy the KJV.  I have many translations, but I prefer that one and it is likely due to the fact that as I grew up, I read that version and memorized Scripture from it.  It has stuck with me.

I am aware of the Westcott-Hort issue and to that I would agree, which is why I find myself always going back to the KJV.  However, I also find myself going back to the original Greek and Hebrew.

What’s interesting about translations is that words mean one thing to one person and another thing to another person.  You’ve seen it happen.  Someone will say something to you or you will read something in a book or newspaper and arrive at one conclusion, only to find that you misunderstood what was being presented to you.  How does that happen when you are both using the same language?  It happens because of individual backgrounds and reference points.

I chuckle when I hear Jews tell me that I can’t really understand the Tanakh (the Old Testament) because what I’m reading is a translation.  Muslims tell me the same thing about the Qur’an.  My response is that if things are that skewed through the translation process, then there appears little reason to translate anything at all!

In fact, I would not hesitate to say that even when people use the same language, they are translating what they hear or read so that it fits into their own perspective.  They may get it right or they may get it wrong.

For instance, the sign that reads “Fine for Littering,” means one thing, yet it can be taken two different ways.  The average person would read that and take it to mean that if you litter and are caught, you will be given a monetary fine.

Another person who is on the Autism Spectrum or someone who is just starting to learn English might read that and think that it is perfectly okay to litter.  In order to be completely clear to all, the sign should read “No Littering!” or “Do Not Litter!” or “Littering Subject to Fine!”  But that’s not what it says and so we have the potential for confusion.

When you listen to someone or read something, even when it is in your own native language, you are translating it because we do not all share the same backgrounds, cultural euphemisms, or reference points.  This is also why people can read the same Bible and come away with a variety of meanings.

When we read Scripture, it is extremely important to come away with God’s intended meaning and that requires a good amount of study at times.  The more, the better.

The word “heretic” is normally used in reference to religious beliefs held by a person, but it was never intended to be used against people who have a different eschatological belief than someone else.  It was meant to be used against people who have a strange view of salvation.  Today, it seems that the word is tossed around by people toward others who do not agree with them over the smallest things.

I am not a heretic because I believe in the PreTrib Rapture or because I am a Dispensationalist.  I am not a heretic because I do not believe the KJV is not the English version of the inspired autographs.  I’m not a heretic at all because unlike some, I believe that salvation is only through faith in Jesus’ finished work on Calvary’s cross.

The people who are heretics are the ones who add to salvation with any form of work.  If I as a Christian must work to maintain my salvation, that is no different from working to gain it in the first place.

It would be nice if people truly understood the meaning of the word “heretic,” but that doesn’t appear to be the case.  I am glad I have been able to develop a thick skin, produced by people who love to use the word “heretic” like a baseball bat, slamming me and many others over the head with it.

Before you choose to call anyone a heretic, make sure you are using the word correctly, in reference to their view of salvation.  It’s ironic to me that those who seem to use it the most are the ones who are most likely defined by it.

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4 Comments

  • 1. Fred  |  January 2, 2012 at 2:47 AM

    Wait till i tell you that there is no ‘eternal hell-fire torment’ in the bible and you will fully know the definition of a heretic!

    • 2. modres  |  January 2, 2012 at 8:27 AM

      The only way you can arrive to that conclusion is by allegorizing Scripture. Annihilation is not taught in Scripture. The eternity of the Lake of Fire is though. It’s all over the New Testament including the teachings of Jesus.

  • 3. Sherry  |  December 26, 2011 at 11:39 AM

    First, I’m called a heretic because I am not properly preparing people to undergo the horrific troubles of the upcoming Tribulation.

    If we pre-tribbers are wrong then there will be no one completely prepared for what the Tribulation will bring. It will be a time of total reliance on God to provide for us or for us to lay down our lives for Him. I think those left behind will be shocked that their supplies for survival will not be the sufficient provision they had hoped. (I saw a website that tells one how to survive perilous times. They showed how to shrink wrap a roll of toilet paper. Yep, it was the size of a DL card when done. I had to laugh when thinking about how to get that toilet paper to its original size when its needed, something that the instructions didn’t include. At least it was water-proof. 😆 )

    I have a couple of old eschatology pamphlets from before 1948 where no mention of a physical Israel is mentioned. I surely wouldn’t call them heretics because we now have a reborn nation of Israel. Like you said, the term heretic belongs to those who would preach another gospel. I wonder if some Christians worship their end-times beliefs (or their KJV) when they resort to inappropriate name-calling.

    • 4. modres  |  December 26, 2011 at 1:33 PM

      “I wonder if some Christians worship their end-times beliefs (or their KJV) when they resort to inappropriate name-calling.”

      That and the fact that many of these individuals seem to be so filled with pride. THEY are being true to the Lord. THEY are holding to the correct belief system. The fact that many of these folks show no compassion is a giveaway to their true attitude and demeanor.


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