What Does It Take to Be a Heretic?

Rick WarrenI came across an online article titled, Rick Warren Preaching Heresy at Hillsong 2015 Conference. I often take notice of the heresy accusations aimed at Rick Warren. My most popular post on this blog is Three Reasons Why Rick Warren is a Heretic.

There is no lack when it comes to people accusing Warren of heresy. However, every book, blog post and article that I have read by Warren has represented orthodox Christian theology.

What is the problem with Rick Warren?

In the above article by Jeff Maples, the accusation is that Warren receives extra-biblical revelation. Maples makes the following comment, “Rick Warren has been on a downhill path for a number of years, but this is outright heretical teaching.”

From that quote, you would think that Warren was writing his own Book of Mormon. But that is not what Warren is saying. Rather, Warren is saying that he hears from God in various ways. Is it heresy to believe that God speaks to us in ways outside the Bible?

In order to label this as a heresy, we would want some sort of biblical rejection of hearing from God outside written text. Instead, we find people in the New Testament hearing from God outside of the written text.

Does Warren hear from God? I have no idea. I know that I have experienced what has seemed to be God speaking to me. Not in an audible voice but in something that really seemed to be God.

But what if Warren is wrong? What if God does not speak to him outside Scripture? I still don’t see that as heresy. Some Christians seem to be quite eager to stick on the heresy label. Often it is when another Christian does something they don’t like, has a different style or under/overemphasizes a certain doctrine.

From my reading of the Bible and the Church Fathers, heresy is much more serious than that.

When should we call someone a heretic?

These are the kinds of doctrines that fall into the heresy category: denial of the Trinity, denial of the incarnation, denial of Jesus’ atonement, denial of the resurrection of Jesus and denial of salvation by faith. There may be a few others but not many.

One could listen to Rick Warren at the Hillsong Conference and believe that he is wrong but that would not make him a heretic.

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