Faith and Heresy

Faith and Heresy January 28, 2004

Barth says that the conflict of faith and heresy is far more serious and important than the conflicts between faith and unbelief. Unbelief cannot be taken with seriousness, he says, because we believe in the forgiveness of sins. But heresy is taken seriously to the extent that it has the form of faith without the content. Between faith and heresy there is “a headlong collision such as can only take place between contending brothers.” Then he adds: “The much vaunted progress made between the 17th and 18th centuries consisted in the decision to tolerate one another, i.e., to abandon one another to the appropriate fate. This was the first breach in the fellowship hitherto continually maintained in conflict.” This is a crucial insight: The refusal to fight heresy is the beginning of heresy in its etymological sense, the beginning of “factions” in the church and the beginning of broken fellowship.

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