I was walking across a bridge one day, and I saw a man standing on the edge, about to jump off. So I ran over and said "Stop! don't do it!"
"Why shouldn't I?" he said. I said,
"Well, there's so much to live for!"
He said, "Like what?"
I said, "Well...are you religious or atheist?"
He said, "Religious."
I said, "Me too! Are you christian or buddhist?"
He said, "Christian."
I said, "Me too! Are you catholic or protestant?"
He said, "Protestant."
I said, "Me too! Are you episcopalian or baptist?"
He said, "Baptist!"
I said,"Wow! Me too! Are you baptist church of god or baptist church of the lord?"
He said, "Baptist church of god!"
I said, "Me too! Are you original baptist church of god, or are you reformed baptist church of god?"
He said,"Reformed Baptist church of god!"
I said, "Me too! Are you reformed baptist church of god, reformation of 1879, or reformed baptist church of god, reformation of 1915?"
He said, "Reformed baptist church of god, reformation of 1915!"
I said, "Die, heretic scum", and pushed him off. -- Emo Phillips
I was just called a heretic tonight over something I wrote at my Bible study blog a few months ago. Apparently I wasn't Calvinist enough. The commenter has something like 15 blogs, all taking on one heresy or another. One was entitled, Arminian Heresy, and once I saw that I didn't worry too much about what he thought.
Not that there is no such thing as heresy. Another of his blogs was about the heresies of the Watchtower Organization. Another was about Mormonism. But it seemed that, like Emo above, he wanted every last belief to be exactly as he saw it... or else.
I think there are some essential beliefs, but there are also doctrines that really don't qualify as "dealbreakers" so far as I can see. I may believe in 5-point Calvinism or 0-point Calvinism or Calvinism by a field goal on Monday Night Football, but it seems to me that crying heresy because someone else doesn't match all five TULIP points is a bit over the top.
My denomination is one of the few that doesn't draw a lot of doctrinal lines past the basics. I really like that. I have my own opinions about baptism, but if a brother has a different belief, I'm not out to push him off a bridge, yelling, "Die, heretic scum!" For that matter, I'm not about to push a Jehovah's Witness off that bridge with the same shout either, yet I cannot consider his beliefs to be either correct or orthodox.
Of course the trend lately in the church is to go the other way... to whittle down the list of essentials to the point where it's basically just using the term "God" and everything is OK. I think that's foolish nonsense, but by the same token I'm not about to disassociate someone based on doctrinal beliefs. I'm not going to compromise my own understanding either, but it's the anti-Christ-like (if you'll pardon the expression) shout of "HERESY!" which really makes me feel sad for those who settle on one understand without thinking that God can be much more than we can take in.
All the commenter said was "HERESY!" No explanation of what or why or where or when or any other word starting with a "w". No, "Come let us reason together" or anything like it. Just a war whoop and a condemnation hurled over the wall.
I think most people I deal with understand what I believe and why. I think most also realize that I'm not going to push them off a bridge due to denominational differences. But they know that I'm open to talking about all those matters.
At least I think that's what they understand.
"Lord, help me to stand for you in an uncompromising way, yet still show the love as You showed it."