As this issue goes to press, the Episcopal Church is reluctantly trying one of its bishops (who flagrantly ordained a practicing homosexual) for heresy. Already, the trial has been delayed by procedural moves, including changes of venue and a call for a preliminary hearing on whether the Episcopal Church even has a doctrine that addresses the bishop's alleged misconduct and the false teaching on which it was based. If the court decides there is no such doctrine, the heresy trial will be aborted.

Excesses elicit correctives. Each new imbalanced approach to the faith gives the church the fresh opportunity to demonstrate the fine, subtle equilibrium of faith that makes it beautiful. Heresy occurs where some legitimate dimension of faith is so weighted out of equilibrium as to become a principle of interpretation for all other aspects, thus denying the unity and proportionality of the ancient always-everywhere-and-by-everyone consensus.

God allows heresies to challenge the church in order to bring us to a fuller understanding of the truth. We hope the Episcopal Church will discover that.


The Greek word behind heresy means the act of choosing: the self-willing choice that departs from apostolic teaching. Marcion, Montanus, and Arius were all convinced they had a clearer picture. The current error does not proclaim a better truth, but that all truths are equal and none is superior. The old-time heretic had excessive regard for his own "truth." Nevertheless, the modern relativist may be every bit as willful in considering all truths "valid." Thus the difficulty for someone who wants to discuss heresy.

I have had the dubious honor of being tagged a heresy-hunter. I first considered calling myself a victim, an abused ...

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