Friday, January 12, 2007

Schism and Heresy

I was talking informally with someone a couple of weeks ago and he mentioned that there was a bishop in the Episcopal Church (USA) who said that schism was worse than heresy.* In response to that he scoffed, finding it risible.

I don't want to speculate too far on my conversation partner's point, as he did not elaborate. I think it fair to say, though, that most likely he would have prioritised it the other way around: schism is warranted on grounds of heresy, or at least far less serious than heresy.

But after considering it awhile, I don't think they can be prioritised in that way. It seems to me, rather, that they are both awful, both to be resisted. Or, to put a somewhat finer point on it, they are simply two species of the same thing: human pride.

* The identity of the bishop and my interlocutor are unimportant to my point.

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Blogger PdB said...

Schism is created by heresy, for heresy breaks from Truth, separating man from God and the faithful.

A person making a comment such as the bishop's seems rather to point his finger at the faithful for schism, when the responsibility for the schism lies at the feet of the heretic.

Sunday, January 14, 2007 1:47:00 AM  
Blogger Jason said...

I disagree. There is not a direct line of cause and effect from one to the other. It goes both ways: schism creates heresy as much as heresy creates schism. And they are both aspects of the same thing - or so I would argue (rather than just assert) if I had more time!

Further, I question your characterisation, because it paints schism as acceptable, something forced on someone: unfortunate, but basically alright if provoked. I don't believe this statement can be adequately supported.

I also realise that, saying that, I am sharpening up my petard, since the entire church is in one degree or another in schism. But of course, it is one thing to recognise that, and another to endorse it.

Finally, while those who know me will know that I take heresy with the utmost seriousness, I'm not quite convinced that heresy (in and of itself) separates us from God.

Sunday, January 14, 2007 2:29:00 PM  
Blogger PdB said...

You would not say that sin separates us from God? Is not heresy sin?

You misunderstand my characterization. Schism is no more acceptable than heresy is, and I didn't mean to imply a cause/effect relationship, especially one in which the faithful are justified in fomenting a schism in response to the heresy.

Rather, heresy is the schism away from God that begins in the epicenter of the heart, radiating its effects into the community so far as the inner rebellion and circle of influence extends.

I am interested to see how you would argue that schism creates heresy.

Also, what, in your view, ought to be the faithful's response to heresy, and how is it informed by Scripture?

Sunday, January 14, 2007 4:19:00 PM  

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