In my last article, we began to define doctrine, sound doctrine, and heresy. We determined from the Scriptures that the only way we as Christians are permitted to build doctrine is from the Word of God, and more specifically, from the witness of two or three verses. The intention of these articles is to scrutinize the doctrines of television preacher, Mark T. Barclay, to determine whether they are heresy or sound doctrine. If the doctrines of Mark T. Barclay can be proven to be heresy, then we can, with all humility and without a critical spirit, call him a heretic. However, if his doctrines are proven to be merely doctrinal differences and not heresy, then we must leave him and his ministry alone and obey the Scriptures that command us to, “know them that labor among you and esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake” (1 Thessalonians 5:12,13). Paul didn’t encourage us to love the Gospel Preacher because we agreed with all their doctrine, for doctrine is not even mentioned in the verse, rather, it is for their work’s sake that we love and esteem them.
So, What is Heresy?
So, what is heresy? According to the sum of the New Testament verses addressing the subject, heresy is a doctrine or system of teaching designed to deceive and lead people away from a holy life serving Jesus Christ. Heresy is designed to remove the love of God from a believer’s heart, callous their soul against sin, and turn them against truth by providing an easier standard. In short, any opinion or teaching that is repugnant to the doctrines of the Bible is heresy.
When does a mere doctrinal difference qualify to be labeled as a heresy? Doctrine can earn the label of heresy when it produces the following perverse fruit:
- Deception in the minds of believers (Matthew 24:4, 5, 11, 24)
- Lawlessness in the hearts of believers (Matthew 24:12)
- Remorselessness in the hearts of believers (Matthew 24:12)
- A perversion of the Gospel (Galatians 1:7)
- Bewitching the hearer out of the Gospel and back into spiritual slavery (Galatians 3:1)
- Causing people to depart from the faith (1 Timothy 4:1)
- Producing an attractive alternative Gospel to follow (2 Peter 2:2)
- Causing the Gospel to be slandered and mocked by others (2 Peter 2:2)