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   SO-CALLED "HERESY-HUNTING" A DUTY

                              by J.J. Andrew

                                   published by Robert Roberts 

                                (see reference IFC 'The Christadelphian' September 1886) 

 

 

       "All heresy-hunting is of diabolos", says the flesh.

      "Try the spirits whether they are of God",  writes the Spirit; and the

      reason given  is     "because many false prophets are gone out into the

      world" (1 Jno. iv. 1).    The "false prophets" were teachers of heresy,

      but professed to teach  that which was true.    There was a difficulty in

      identifying them,     and therefore all teachers of divine things were to

      be tried to ascertain   whose teaching was genuine and whose adulter-

      ated. The object of the test was that

                      the heresy-teachers might be repudiated.     

     

      The spirit in Peter writing of Israel says,  "But there were false pro-

      phets  also  among  the people even as       there shall be    false teachers

      among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies,  even deny-

      ing the Lord that bought them" (II Peter ii. 1).    How were such false

      prophets  to be treated?        Moses  says,  they   "shall be put to death"

      (Deut. xiii. 5).      Even  a  "brother",  "son",  "daughter",  "wife",  or

      "friend",    who attempted to  introduce idolatry was not to be spared

      (v. 6 to 11). The object was that Israel might be purged of evil.

 

      Communities were to be dealt with  on    the same principle as  individ-

      uals.    If it were reported that any one city had commenced to "serve

      other gods"(v. 12, 13) "then", said Moses, "shalt thou enquire,   and

      make search,  and ask diligently;  and  behold,  if it be truth,    and the

      thing  certain,  that such  abomination  is   wrought  among  you,    thou

      shalt  surely  smite  the  inhabitants  of  that city with the edge of the

      sword, destroying it utterly and all that is therein" (v 14, 15).

 

      The comparison drawn  in Peter's epistle  between    false teachers in

      fleshly Israel and spiritual Israel   is evidence that this Mosaic enact-

      ment contains a lesson for us.     The use of the sword or anything des-

      tructive  is  out of  the question;     a  practical  protest  by  refusing    to

      fellowship  is  the  full  extent of   permitted action.    The command   to

      "enquire" is  not at variance with  New Testament injunction; it is in

      harmony with it.    When, therefore,     it is reported that any brother or

      ecclesia is following false doctrine,  it is  not only permitted,  but it is

      obligatory on other brethren  and ecclesias,      to  "enquire  and  make

      search,  and  ask  diligently",      to see whether it be true and the thing

      certain.   If it is,  the  responsibility of their position   leaves no option

      but that of repudiating complicity with the evil.

 

      It is on this principle that  ecclesial     action has been taken     on the In-

      spiration question.       It  was  reported  that  false  teaching existed      in

      Spiritual Israel  concerning  the authorship  of  divine  writings,     and

      on  "enquiring,  making search,  and  asking diligently",     many have

      found   "the  thing  certain".     Some,  it  will  be  said,    have  inquired

      without  finding its existence;         but it  is necessary to remember that

      there are  different ways  of inquiring,       and that none are so blind as

      those who do not wish to see.       The evidence of its existence is indis-

      putable, and there are no excuses to justify its being ignored.

 

      The  repudiation  of  responsibility for         the false teaching of  those at

      a distance shows   a  defective appreciation of     the unity  which should

      exist  between  all  the  members  of  the  one  body.    "The members

      should have the  same  care one for another,     and whether one mem-

      ber suffer, all the members suffer with it" (1 Cor. xii. 25, 26).

 

      Heresy searching among national Israel was not of diabolos,      but of

      God; therefore  heresy  searching  among Spiritual Israel,        can have

      no other origin.  And what is its result?         It tends to preserve the pu-

      rity of revealed truth.    If a heresy test were of diabolos,   it would be

      difficult to justify the repudiation of heresy;

           and thus the One Body would gradually become so

         defiled that    pure doctrine would wholly disappear.

 

           - 'The Christadelphian', August 1886, page 317.

       The above article was re-printed  & fully endorsed in

                       'The Christadelphian', July 1945.

       Link to 'Words from Sounder Days' for more details.

 

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