Monday, 8 May 2006

What is heresy?

At his new blog, According to Jonathan, Jonathan Brown has an insightful post on the question of heresy. He rightly highlights the human cost involved in identifying any person as a “heretic.”

The way the term “heresy” functions in theological discourse is an immensely interesting topic. One of the most acute discussions of the concept of heresy is that of Friedrich Schleiermacher, in his Christian Faith, §§21-22. Schleiermacher’s account is especially useful for highlighting the important role “heresy” plays in the construction of dogmatic theology.

Schleiermacher famously categorises the “natural heresies of Christianity” into four basic forms: the Docetic, the Ebionitic, the Manichaean and the Pelagian. Apart from these four forms, he argues, “other kinds of heresy” simply “cannot be conceived.”

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