Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The Emo Illustration

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."


julie said...

I read the post and couldn't figure out the objectionable part. I wish he'd given a bit more information so I could push you off the bridge too! :)

Steve Dennie said...

I enjoy people who cry "heresy." Their utter silliness makes me laugh, and it's fun watching how they acrobatically twist their faces into an expression of disdain. Ann Coulter strikes me the same way.


brett said...

What denomination are you?

Callmeteem said...

I think you strike a good balance. But I do wonder what your heresy was. And your word verification thing kofuz looks like some kind of slavic curse.

rev-ed said...

Teem - kofuz to you too!

Brett - Church of the United Brethren in Christ (see

Julie - Ironically, I just came home after standing on a bridge. You may have missed your chance. ;)

R.G. Ryan said...

As irrefutable proof that God has a sense of humor, He gave us theology. :-)

cv said...

In my limited experience I have found that there are always those who are struggling to be seen as more holy/learn-ed/wise/gifted/superior than those around -- them no matter what the situation or circumstances may be. I found that they are the first to pronounce others 'heretic', 'idiot', 'moron', or a host of other names that really serve a core an underlying need: to make themselves feel superior. I have also come to realize that these people are merely but massively insecure, a condition that is incurable until an awakening to the condition occurs (and rarely does). Both men and women are equally vulnerable to the condition.

There is a body part named for them. Both men and women have it.

My denomination? Probably dimes and nickels.

julie said...

I thought of this discussion when I was reading 2 Timothy 14 (thanks Word Search!). It says to avoid, "quasrreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen."

Claire Joy said...

Just recently my post was called imbecilic. Is that better or worse than heretical? :P

John Meunier said...

Great post. Thank you.

I wonder where the lines should be drawn and where they should be erased. When I hear folks at my church (UMC) say it doesn't matter what you believe as long as you are nice, I'm pretty sure doctrinal flexibility has gone too far.

But figuring out how far to bend is a puzzler to me.

cv said...


He reminds me of those white supremacists that say something and then say 'white power' after it so that the 'congregation' will cheer.

Who is one person to decide who is a 'true believer' and who is not?

rev-ed said...

Ah, I see that the heretic hunter has found my post. I'll answer his comments here.
Why dont you allow everyone to see my website?
Because I don't make a habit of linking to sites which give Christianity a bad name. I don't think it deserves the publicity.

why write about me and not allow the people that comment to see why i called you a heretic?
Because you didn't even have the guts to explain to me why you called me a heretic. If you don't even offer the courtesy of explaining yourself, I really don't feel compelled to give you the opportunity to spread your foolish heretic-hunting.

i wrote heretic as i knew that my name would link to my sites and you could see why i knew you believed a false gospel. i dont have time to go into great detailed discussions,
So you're just out advertising your sites, huh? Do you try the same approach with evangelism? "I don't have time to share the Gospel... go to my website." Nice.
there's plenty of info on my sites and the links to other true believers websites aswell as audios sermons and books.
"true believers" = only those who agree with me on every last detail. Thank you for beautifully proving my point.

thanks for your time.
I'll be praying that you will listen to what God has been trying to tell you -- that He is bigger than the arbitrary lines you have drawn, and more complex than the simple answers you have come up with.
Jesus is Lord!

Catez said...

Oh my. You mean you were a heretic all this time and I didn't know? Shouldn't you start every post with "Unclean! Unclean!"

I like you Ed.

Carol said...

Ed, you have to at least admire his economy of words. A lot of folks dedicate their entire blogs to loquacious accusations of heresy targeting...well, most of the blogdom, actually. At least this guy was succinct. He could have gone on and on with all sorts of verbiage. You know...kinda like me!

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Anonymous said...

Yeah, as an atheist, its hard to take most (if not all) religions seriously. To be a Christian means so many different things, depending on who you ask. Not too mention all the different ways of being Buddhist, Muslim, Wiccan, ect...

To someone on the outside looking in, it looks like:

Believe what your family believes. Done! For a more advanced approach:

Step 1: Determine what you think is right, wrong, and purposeful. Make sure this coincides with what you need and desire.
Step 2: Find a religion that thinks like you do, and will best fulfill your needs and desires
Step 3: If you can't find one, find a good "base" and change things from there
Step 4: It's best to choose a name that will help you, rather than hurt you (ie what do your family and/or neighbors call themselves?)

Stir well, share often, done!