Heresies & How to Avoid Them

Sunday, November 20, 2011
The Twenty-Third Sunday After Pentecost
10:00 am-10:45 am


Fr Austin discusses the book edited by Ben Quash and Michael Ward, with an eye toward why it matters what Christians believe.

There are a number of classic mistakes in understanding Christian faith (for instance, that Jesus is not really equal to God, or that Jesus has a human body but not a human mind). These are interesting not because Christianity wants to ‚Äúroot out‚Äù heretics (in fact, most heresies were initially held by people who were just trying to figure out the implications of Jesus’ birth, teaching, death, and resurrection). Rather, they are interesting in that they help us see why it matters what we believe. 

This week’s heresy? Theopaschitism! This is the teaching that God suffers as God. It is not only an old heresy, but a very common teaching today. In fact, a contemporary theologian is more apt to say that God suffers than to affirm (with Aquinas, et al.) that God is immutable, impassible, and so forth. Why this switch? And what is at stake when, instead of the orthodox teaching (that God suffers in Christ as a man) one takes on theopaschitism (that God suffers as God)?

Looking ahead: This is the last Sunday for heresies that pertain to the person of Christ. On November 27, Fr Austin will take up heresies that pertain to the church and our salvation, starting with Marcionism, the claim that the God of the Old Testament is not the God of Jesus (and thus the claim that the Christian Bible should not include the Old Testament). This will continue weekly. But note, there will be no Sunday classes on December 25 or January 1.