Thursday, August 13, 2009

What is 'heresy'?

In Church History class, we were asked, "What is heresy? (Who is a heretic?)" by Andrew Peh, our lecturer.

Unreservedly, I answered, "Those teachings and teachers that disagree with me."

The class laughed. Andrew jokingly replied that that is 'bigotry'.

If you are interested to find out more on the definition of 'heresy', the Catholic Encyclopedia has a long article on it.

My working definition of the term would be something like this: Theological heresy does not necessarily means falsehood (though it often does), but of an unprecedented paradigm of expression reinterpreting the fractional of an established common knowledge.

From this definition, one can say that heresy happened when one concentrates on part(s) of the common knowledge and neglects others, and in this way lacks wholeness. In the older centuries, 'heresy' was simply that which caused tension with an institutional teaching or that which strayed away from the general perceived or received knowledge.

Therefore heresy was much related to 'tradition' (perceived or received knowledge), and hence it can be said that heresy is that which is untraditional or unconventional. Yet it drew its source from tradition. To be more precise, it is an re-interpretation if not deconstruction. And it does not necessarily mean or lead to falsehood (for eg. Copernican and Galileo revolution).

Heresy is deem evil by many, yet this should not blind the fact of heresies' enablement for orthodoxy. “Heresy is the necessary precondition for orthodoxy, yet orthodoxy may be as much a metamorphosis (or pseudomorphosis) of the foundational religious idea as heresy”. (Rowan Williams, The Making of Orthodoxy.)

1 comment:

blogpastor said...

Looks like you are really into the thick of school life and at the same time sprinkling the serious with some comic relief. There are many who will thank God for a sense of humour. Makes classes more interesting and fun.