Heresy and Orthodoxy – John Boruff

There are as many definitions of the word “heretic” as there are sects, cults, and denominations. Every Christian group eventually ends up believing that their religion is the only true form of Christianity, and every other denomination is false (or heretical). Myself, for example, would be considered a heretic by every denomination, because I don’t believe in denominationalism. But I still believe that my faith is “orthodox.” I believe in a general orthodoxy–in the essential beliefs of Evangelicalism, Pentecostalism, and Charismatic Christianity. Personally, I would consider any beliefs outside of this mold to be “straying from the path” or to a certain extent heretical. See our “We Believe” section where our statement of faith is located.

To be specific, we would say that anyone who does not believe in Evangelical theology is definitely a heretic. This most likely includes:

1. Marian Catholics (but not all individuals)
2. Marian Orthodox (but not all individuals)
3. Mainline Protestants (but not all individuals) – American Baptists, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), United Church of Christ, Episcopal Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), United Methodists, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
4. Independent Churches with Liberal Theology (but not all individuals) – Unitarian Universalists, Metropolitan Community Church, etc.
5. Cultists and Occultists – Hare Krishna, Scientology, Unification Church, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, Transcendental Meditation, Swedenborgianism, Seventh-Day Adventists, Worldwide Church of God, Theosophy, The Way International, Christian Science, Unity, Edgar Cayce (A.R.E.), Rosicrucians, Freemasons, Psychics (Spiritism), New Age, Kabbalah, Eastern Mysticism, Eastern Religions, Horoscopes, UFOs, Satanism, Witchcraft, Wicca, Native American Religions, Tribal Religions (shamanism)
6. Secular Philosophies – Agnostics, Atheists, Skeptics, Rationalists, Existentialists, Secular Humanists
7. World Religions – Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Shintoism, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Islam, Sikhism, Bahai

What is “General Orthodoxy”?

I’ll let Jesus, the apostles, and the first century Christians, define what a “heretic” is. It was anyone who either broke away from the early church and formed a new religion (such as the Gnostics)–or it was anyone who resisted the Evangelical/Pentecostal/Charismatic theology of the apostles (such as the Jews, the Greek religions, Stoics, Epicureans, etc). I can’t say that non-Charismatic Evangelicals are heretics (Presbyterians [PCA], Southern Baptists), but they are in the same danger of the scribes and Pharisees of always resisting the Holy Spirit (Acts 7:51). If I were to point at the theology of what I consider to be the most orthodox denominations, I would choose Assemblies of God and the Vineyard. But still, they are denominations (and I don’t believe in denominations). At the very heart, all true Evangelicals are orthodox–and all non-Evangelicals are heretics. Evangelicalism = Orthodoxy. But I do believe there are “Evangelicals” in the Catholic Church, etc.–that may not really believe in the Catechism of the Catholic Church fully. They just “go-to-church” at Catholic churches. If you are a Christian, no matter where you “go-to-church,” I say you are not a heretic if you believe in these fundamental truths, as outlined by the National Association of Evangelicals:

  • We believe the Bible to be the inspired, the only infallible, authoritative Word of God.
  • We believe that there is one God, eternally existent in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
  • We believe in the Deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, in His virgin birth, in His sinless life, in His miracles, in His vicarious and atoning death through His shed blood, in His bodily resurrection, in His ascension to the right hand of the Father, and in His personal return in power and glory.
  • We believe that for the salvation of lost and sinful people, regeneration by the Holy Spirit is absolutely essential.
  • We believe in the present ministry of the Holy Spirit by whose indwelling the Christian is enabled to live a godly life.
  • We believe in the resurrection of both the saved and the lost; they that are saved unto the resurrection of life and they that are lost unto the resurrection of damnation.
  • We believe in the spiritual unity of believers in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Generally Orthodox Denominations

And, although we don’t believe in the ecclesiology or way of “doing church” of these denominational organizations–I would consider these denominational members of the National Association of Evangelicals to have generally orthodox belief systems: Advent Christian General Conference, Anglican Mission in America, Assemblies of God, Brethren in Christ Church, Christian Reformed Church in North America, Christian Union, Church of God (Cleveland, Tenn.), Church of the Nazarene, Conservative Congregational Christian Conference, Converge Worldwide, Elim Fellowship, Evangelical Assembly of Presbyterian Churches, Evangelical Congregational Church, Evangelical Free Church of America, Evangelical Friends Church International, Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Every Nation Churches, Fellowship of Evangelical Churches, Free Methodist Church of North America, General Association of General Baptist, Grace Communion International, Great Commission Churches, International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, International Pentecostal Church of Christ, International Pentecostal Holiness Church, Missionary Church, Inc., North American Baptist Conference, Open Bible Churches, Presbyterian Church in America, Primitive Methodist Church USA, The Brethren Church, The Christian & Missionary Alliance, The Evangelical Church, The Salvation Army, The Vineyard, USA, The Wesleyan Church Corporation, Transformation Ministries, United Brethren in Christ, US Conference of the Mennonite Brethren Churches

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About John Boruff

John Boruff is a Philosophy and Religion graduate from UNC Pembroke. In his free time, he blogs about the Christian life; and has special interests in evangelism and spiritual gifts. He identifies himself as a Reformed Arminian Pentecostal. He’s also a husband and dad. John loves street preaching. His influences are Leonard Ravenhill, David Wilkerson, John Wesley, Charles Finney, etc. John is always in the process of writing; and is posting free e-books on this site for cultivating a deeper Christian life. Among them are his 'How to Experience God' and 'The Gospel of Jesus Christ.' He is currently working on the lives of great prophets in church history—from Catholic saints to Protestant reformers and revivalists. He is also working on a Biblical theology of poverty alleviation.
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