My friend, Dave Huth, has a great graphic on his blog about heresy. Here’s the first panel:
Yesterday, I accused C. Michael Patton of holding a heretical view of the Trinity. He does. He thinks that the Trinity is a “functional hierarchy,” which contravenes the historic creedal belief that the persons of the Trinity are co-equal in all respects. It probably also makes him a modalist, or at least a dynamic monarchianist, since he overemphasizes the role of each member of the Trinity, and thus emphasizes the oneness over the threeness of the Godhead. (I imagine that he would disagree with me on the modalism charge.)
My friend, Rachel Held Evans, saw the post, and liked it. But she also tweeted,
@jonestony Yeah, I don’t like the word “heretical” having been at the receiving end of that accusation so often…
— Rachel Held Evans (@rachelheldevans) July 24, 2013
I guess “heretical” is what you’d call a “trigger word” for Rachel.
Fred thinks so, and I agree, in spite of the heresy of Patripassianism:
Don’t get me wrong, I believe in the Trinity, in one God in three persons. This is a historically Christian way of talking and thinking about God. It’s a helpful and insightful metaphor. And it’s a metaphor that can be supported by several passages in the Bible. But it’s not actually a biblical metaphor. It’s something that Christians have, for many centuries, laid on top of the scriptures, but it was never something we found there in any explicit form.
Set aside all the whole Monster Manual of traditional heresies and heretical -isms, where theology often starts to get into trouble is when we elevate our metaphors about God and begin worshiping and serving those metaphors rather than worshiping and serving God.