Christian Relaunch

Influential Heresies

A heresy is a Christianoid belief incompatible with real Christianity, and I call real Christianity's reply a reformation.

Every branch of contemporary Christianoidity harbours at least one heresy, as do all the twigs I have encountered. As far as I know, no group since the Apostolic age has ever excluded all heresies, so real Christians have been left with no adequate vehicle. Until now.

Heresies vary prolifically in their details, but all the influential ones I know of have been variations on a few basic deviations. I call each such deviation a metaheresy, and real Christianity's overall reply to it a metareformation.

In the Metaheresies Table below, each metaheresy is defined and has a link to a Metaheresy Page.

Each metaheresy page has a Heresies Table in which each heresy of that type is described and has a link to a Heresy Page.

The Heresy Pages range in quantity and quality from minimal placeholders, through fragmentary jumbles, to coherent essays.

Metaheresy Metaheretical Belief Metareformation Metareformational Belief
Feminism Men are not entitled to rule women. Androcratism Men are entitled to rule women.
Authoritarianism Some men are entitled to rule others. Panlibertarianism No man is entitled to rule another.
Otherworldalism Detachment from the visible world aids fulfillment. Culturalism Detachment from the visible world hinders fulfillment.
Atheanthroposialism God never intended to become a man except to remedy man's defection. Theanthroposialism God's original plan involved becoming a man with no human defection.
Magicalism A human's realignment requires ceremonial initiation. Noeticalism A human's realignment requires only a new attitude.
Bonhominalism Humans can do pure good even without realignment. Malhominalism Since man's defection, humans cannot do pure good until realigned by God.

The Creed Area and this Heresies Area

The Creed Area (the Creed Items and the pages they link to) is for all readers, and seeks to promote Christianity against all possible alternatives.

This Heresies Area (this page and those it links to) is mainly for Christianoid readers, and promotes real Christianity against Christianoid actual alternatives.

Since every heresy listed in this Heresies area is a denial of Christianity, and the Creed area tries to rebut all possible denials, you might expect every heresy here to contradict something affirmed there, maybe even to be documented there as an Objection. It is true that the heresies are opposed to the creed, and in some cases the same issue is discussed in both areas, but in general the matter is not so simple because of the different modes of arrangement. For instance, Synergistic Bonhominalism is rooted in distortions of the doctrines of Creation and Defection, but historically it has been debated in relation to Restoration, so it is not obvious to which Section of the creed it pertains. (This illustrates the Christianoid tendency to focus attention too far downstream, and why the structure of my creed does not conform to that of the historic debates.) I hope at some point to make all this clearer.

The Heresies in General

Scope. For the theory of possible heresies, see Forms of Ekklesia. However, the theory's definition of heresy is in one respect wider than the one used here, for the former would classify Rejectionist Judaicism (affirming Yahweh as god of Israel while denying that Jesus is the Christ) as a heresy. The definition used here is closer to traditional definitions, according to which Rejectionist Judaicism is in its own category: neither Christian, nor heretical, nor heathen. Here, the intention is to describe heresies that have actually arisen within Christianoidity.

Logic. A metaheresy is the point at which all its constituent heresies agree with one another and against Christianity. Technically (in information theory), each metaheresy is implied by the disjunction of its constituents. Similarly, each rebuttal of a metaheresy implies the conjunction of the corresponding reformations. (Those implications would be identities if we included all possible heresies of the type along with the actual ones.)

Metaheresies. Heresies (and their opposites) are historical, but metaheresies (and their opposites) are generalisations, not directly corresponding to historical debates (hence usually not illustrated with quotations) but useful as a background to understand the histories. I do not claim that mine is the only way to classify heresies, only that it is one useful way.

Practical Relevance. Some of the reformations may seem abstract and pedantic; for instance among Christianoids the focus of discussion has often been Christological, as when Docetists deny that Christ is man and Arians deny that he is God, but the underlying issues are always practical. Any heresy tends to hinder selves from reaching a point where God's realigning grace can operate, or from working out the consequences of receiving that grace.

Names. Where I failed to find a traditional name for a heresy or reformation, I invented one.

Choice of Quotations. I illustrate each heresy with at least one pair of quotations, one from a prominent early proponent of the heresy and one from a prominent early opponent. However, some heresies take shape gradually and are only clearly expressed after the corresponding reformation has already been articulated, and in early centuries over-zealous reformationists sometimes destroyed original documents; for these reasons, sometimes the heretical quotation is later than the reformational one.

Double Negatives. I have simplified some quotations by removing double negatives. For instance, I would reduce "We condemn those who deny that P" to just "P".

Reformationists' Motives. Reformationists have often become entangled with the machinations of kings and suchlike gangsters, so that the general historian may be right to treat their history mainly from that point of view. (For instance, we English know how questionable were Henry Tudor's motives for supporting Protestantism, even if we overlook the violence involved.) And some reformations have been promoted largely by souls firmly attached to other heresies; perhaps obstinately attached, in which case they were themselves false Christians. But none of this detracts from the significance of these reformations for the history of Christianity.

Who Deviated from the Status Quo Ante? Sometimes heretics insinuate an alien belief into Christianoid discourse by reinterpreting an accepted form of words through which the gospel has traditionally been expressed. Such heretics resist clarification, claiming that anyone who explains the original meaning of that form of words is making alien additions to it.

Sequence of Heresies within a Metaheresy. In simple cases a heresy arises at a certain time and is soon rebutted by its reformation, but other cases are less simple. The sequences aim at showing logical relationships, though sometimes these coincide with chronological ones.

Corellations between Metaheresies

Magicalism and Bonhominalism tend to go together, as for instance in the very first heretical faction faced by Christians, which led Paul of Tarsus to focus on the Bonhominalism lurking behind the Galatian heretics' insistence on circumcision, rather than directly attacking the Magicalism. Elsewhere Paul does attack Magicalism, as when he says "Christ sent me to proclaim the gospel, not to baptise"; he does so only in passing, but the need to distinguish the two metaheresies is clear in the case of Augustine of Hippo, as forthright in his attack on Bonhominalism as in his defence of Magicalism; indeed in his mind the defence was a key reason for the attack, as in his view Magicalism not only allowed Malhominalism but entailed it.

Otherworldalism tends to beget Atheanthroposialism, for denigrating the body's role suggests that God would achieve nothing worthwhile by becoming flesh. But there have been exceptions.

Otherwordlalism and Bonhominalism often go together. Relegation of our true life to an otherworld gives some Christianoids an excuse to relegate the antithesis between God's friends and his foes, for most practical purposes, to the otherworld also, leaving them free to participate in ungodly society in most practical matters.

Back to Main Contents.