A List of Heresies – John Boruff

The following is a list of historically recognized heresies that have happened in Christianity. These are teachings and theologies that have been recognized as false, erroneous, and heretical by the church fathers and respected orthodox leaders of many evangelical Christian denominations. As a Pentecostal believer, I still feel like Assemblies of God is the safest, most orthodox choice. Even though I don’t agree with all of their positions.

1. Arianism – says Jesus was not equal with God but was a lesser created being.

  • Modern Groups: Jehovah’s Witnesses, Unitarians

2. Rejecting the Holy Spirit as equal with God.

3. Monophysitism – says Jesus was 50% God and 50% man, not 100% of each.

4. Origenism – says the soul is created before the body; universalism (apokatastasis); pantheism; says that the sun, moon, and stars used to have intelligence and souls (as in pagan astrology); says that humans can become angels or demons in the next life; denies the Trinity; says that Jesus has appeared in many different forms, including as an angel, and other spirits; belief in the Monad (the god of Neoplatonism); the belief that souls are spherical and do not look like human bodies, including the resurrection body of Jesus in Heaven, that he looks like nothing more than a spirit ball; annihilationism (the view that the impenitent will burn up in Hell and turn into ashes, and not exist forever); Monism (the Hindu-Neoplatonic view that all things are united with God’s Spirit, including men, angels, and demons, and that all is one).

  • Modern Groups: Many today falsely think of Origen as an orthodox “church father.” This is probably an honest mistake due to Philip Schaff’s inclusion of Origen in Volume IV of his collection called The Ante-Nicene Fathers.

5. Nontrinitarianism – rejection of the Trinity.

  • Modern Groups: Jehovah’s Witnesses, United Pentecostal Church (Oneness/modalism), Unitarians, Adventists, Christadelphians, Living Church of God, Mormons, Unity Church, Church of Christ-Scientist (Christian Science), The Way International, The Church of God International, the United Church of God.

6. Cathars and Albigenses – said the “god” of the Old Testament was an evil being (Satan, the creator of the world), but the “god” of the New Testament was good (Dualism); souls are angels trapped in evil bodies that will be constantly reincarnated until they undergo a baptismal prayer ritual called the consolamentum; forbade people to marry a second time; they rejected the idea of repentance after your baptism; they rejected the idea of backsliders coming back to God; Arianism; vegetarianism; pacifism; against the death penalty; because they believed heterosexual procreation was evil, they generally resorted to gay sex (LGBT); feminism (women pastors); earth is the only “hell” men will experience; universalism; no resurrection of the body (since it is evil); suicide is okay; marital sex is wrong, concubines are better (or casual sex).

  • Modern Groups: Ordo Templi Orientis, Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica, Ecclesia Gnostica Mysteriorum, and other Gnostic cults.

7. Deism – says God created the world and then left it by itself; no miracles today.

  • Modern Groups: World Union of Deists, Church of Deism

8. Priscillianism – Dualism; celibacy; vegetarianism; Apocrypha seen as scripture.

9. Antinomianism – says grace excuses Christians from obeying the moral laws of God.

  • Modern Groups: Grace Evangelical Society, Free Grace Alliance, Bold Grace Ministries, the Plymouth Brethren, the local churches (Watchman Nee and Witness Lee), Dallas Theological Seminary. This is more of a theological movement than an institutionalized denomination: probably only the Plymouth Brethren and Watchman Nee-influenced house churches could be considered as “churches” with antinomian views. But really, antinomianism is like a disease that spreads all throughout the Protestant denominations; and is really only curbed by strong teaching against antinomianism and for lordship salvation (e.g., John MacArthur, The Banner of Truth Trust, J. I. Packer, etc).

10. Audianism – a type of Judaizer; have to celebrate Jesus’ death on Jewish Passover.

  • Modern Judaizer Groups: Messianic Judaism, Chosen People Ministries, Coalition of Torah Observant Messianic Congregations, HaYesod, International Alliance of Messianic Congregations and Synagogues, The Jerusalem Council, Jews for Jesus, Messianic Jewish Alliance of America, Union of Conservative Messianic Synagogues, Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations, the Sacred Name Movement, the Worldwide Church of God, Seventh-Day Adventists, Hebrew Roots Movement.

11. Ebionites – Judaizers who rejected the deity of Christ; they kept the ceremonial laws.

12. Montanism – prophecy equal to Scripture; apostates can’t be saved; no remarriage.

  • Modern Groups: prophecy equal to Scripture in authority (some Quakers, usually liberal: the Religious Society of Friends); backsliding always irrevocable (the Free Will Baptist Church); several denominations forbid divorce and remarriage, even if brought about by adultery, desertion, or abuse: others will allow remarriage only for adultery, but not for desertion and abuse (Church of God, Cleveland, TN).

13. Pelagianism – rejection of original sin; no help of the Holy Spirit is needed to repent.

  • Modern Groups: Church of Christ, Mormons, Charles Finney, and some holiness churches.

14. Semipelagianism – man can make the first saving move in cooperating with God.

15. Biblical Criticism and Liberal Theology – rejects Biblical inerrancy and inspiration, the Virgin Birth, the deity of Christ, substitutionary atonement, the resurrection, miracles, the Second Coming, young earth creationism (and instead adopted Darwinian evolution); accepts the supremacy of atheistic/agnostic/deistic/skeptical/rationalistic science over the Bible and supernatural mysticism. These churches also tend to be LGBT friendly.

  • Modern Groups: American Baptist Churches USA, Disciples of Christ, Episcopal Church USA, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), Mennonite Church USA, Presbyterian Church in the USA (PCUSA), Religious Society of Friends (liberal Quakers), Reformed Church in America (RCA), the United Church of Christ (UCC), Metropolitan Community Church (100% gay), Unitarian Universalist Association, the United Methodist Church, and Unity Church.

FURTHER READING.

Catholic Encyclopedia – “Albigenses.” (A Southern French Cathar group: could it be that the Camisards of the Cevennes or the French Prophets were descendants of the Albigenses? Just a thought.)

Catholic Encyclopedia – “Cathari.”

Catholic Encyclopedia – “Origen and Origenism.”

Catholic Encyclopedia – “Priscillianism.”

Schaff, Philip. “The Anathemas Against Origen.”

Wikipedia – “Catharism.”

Wikipedia – “Christian Heresy in the Modern Era.”

Wikipedia – “Free Grace Theology.” (modern antinomianism).

Wikipedia – “Fundamentalism.”

Wikipedia – “Fundamentalist-Modernist Controversy.”

Wikipedia – “Hebrew Roots.”

Wikipedia – “Heresy in Christianity.”

Wikipedia – “LGBT-Affirming Christian Denominations.”

Wikipedia – “Liberal Christianity.”

Wikipedia – “List of Christian Heresies.” (great article).

Wikipedia – “Messianic Judaism.”

Wikipedia – “Nontrinitarianism.”

Wikipedia – “Origen.”

Wikipedia – “Priscillianism.”

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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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