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Most people would agree that if there is an omniscient omnipresent omnipotent Creator of Heaven and Earth, He probably doesn't need anyone to defend Him. However, our imperfect beliefs and charges of heresy may sometimes need a defense.

People of faith are generally on the right track, but none of us are completely right or completely wrong. Mostly how we go wrong is to think and say that we have all the answers, or that there is only one way to think.

We might remember that a synonym for the word "catholic" is "universal." Big "C" or little "c," the catholic implication for the Christian faith is that it is meant to include everyone (see the Apostles Creed).

Our difficulty is that religions and churches try to unify people with common belief. How's that working out for us? How many religions and denominations are there in the world? Why is that? Because we simply do not and will not all believe the same things.

Was Jesus so naive to think that people from different cultures with different languages and histories would or could all believe the same things? Isn't it more likely that we're just missing something? Could it be He hoped and believed that even if we didn't all believe the same things, that instead we could all still be united by our love for each other and our longing for what is true?

Excluding the crazy people--and there are some--genuine heretics are really just  people who long for the truth more than for an imperfect understanding of it. How is that a capital offense? If Jesus loved the truth and knew that it would set us free, how can a better understanding do anything but help to liberate us? Doesn't it also follow then, that loving and clinging to false beliefs could be a hindrance? How will we know the goodness of our beliefs without practicing them, questioning them or looking at them critically?

Jesus, along with all of the other great spiritual teachers, gave us some great words and ideas, but left us the responsibility to correctly understand and apply them. Jesus said, "you shall know the truth and it shall set you free." He also said that "I am the truth and the life and the way" and that "none should come to the Father except through me." Then He taught us to pray, saying, "Our Father . . ."

Here are my questions: Who is "I?" Who is "me." Why did He say "Our Father?" Is it heresy to even ask the questions? Is it heresy to try and connect the dots between Who God is, who Jesus is and who we are? 

Those who are tempted to shout "heretic!" might consider some simple, if somewhat inconvenient facts: the truth is always perfect but our understanding of it is not; the accusation "heretic!"does not defend God or Jesus, but only particular beliefs; fearful judgments and accusations say much more about one's beliefs and character than any "heresy" does. With such certainty in beliefs, why be threatened enough to shun, excommunicate or execute people who would ask honest questions? Perhaps there would be more comfort and kindness in a faith that a just and loving God will handle any challenges in His Own way.

Church Your Way does not have its own theology--there is enough of that to go around already. But we do simply recognize that there are many ways to think and believe and that those differences can and should enhance and enrich our understanding of the truth. And too, if we can find enough love and curiosity to temporarily suspend our beliefs long enough to look at and consider another way, we may also find some real reasons to be less afraid and love each other all the more.

Matthew 7:21
Mark 9:38-40
Heretical Faith
Heretic's Hangout
List of Heretics

Church Your Way
Jay & Sharon Williams
Davenport, IA
Address, phone available on request.