The Tony Jones Blog at Patheos
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My friend, Dave Huth, has a great graphic on his blog about heresy. Here’s the first panel:
Click through to read the rest of the story.
You’re probably not.
As Meister Eckhart put it, “I may teach heresy, because that’s a matter of intellect. But I can’t be a heretic, since that’s a matter of the will.”
Choice does, then, matter. Error may be heresy, but it’s not in itself a choice to separate oneself from the Church.
In any case, whatever its etymological root, I think “heresy” in the New Testament and subsequent history means something much more like “party” or “faction” than choice. And we are still very good at forming those.
Is the intellect so separate from the will?
Don’t some people choose, in effect, to be separated from the Church, because of their intellectual commitments?
Sure. But I think it’s difficult to make the case that people like Tony are knowingly and deliberately doing that.
Why is knowingly and deliberately teaching heresy not also a matter of the will?
More generally, what’s with the habit on this blog of passing along dubious claims under the supposed cover of some esteemed name? Several otherwise intelligent participants of this blog still show far too much allegiance to their supposed saints.
May I offer a corrective measure? Forget the names. Forget who said it. Look only at the claims themselves. What if some nobody on the street said, “I may teach heresy, because that’s a matter of intellect. But I can’t be a heretic, since that’s a matter of the will”? Would you even give this claim, from the nobody, a second thought? If you did give it a second thought, would you not find it dubious? Would you go around repeating that claim? Would you take it as a premise to build upon?
I, who certainly qualify as “some nobody on the street,” think that Eckhart concisely articulated an important distinction, a distinction for which his own case provides an excellent example. But you’re free to take him out of the equation.
A good faith error is not a sin. Persisting in an error, to the point of insisting on my own way over that of all others, regardless of any resulting dissention, conflict, schism and scandal, is. (It is also, from one point of view, a goodly portion of the visible history of the Christian faith).
The notion that “heresy” means the exercise of choice is one of those frequently-repeated internet commomplaces that, if true, would make “heresy” universal, and therefore a meaningless distinction.
The Heretic is always right in the end.
The heretic gets it in the end.
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