Tag Archives: Heresy

Gordon E. Olsen,  Professor of Theology at Baylor University, recently declared capital punishment a "heresy" and judged those who support it to be worthy of church discipline.

If Olson wishes to argue that our current justice system is not reliable enough to justify using the death penalty, he could make that argument.  But that is not what he is doing here.

In "The Heresy of Capital Punishment" Olson (without a single Scripture reference) makes an absolute statement about what Jesus would do, setting the Son against His Father in the Noahic Covenant.

In the comments thread, one of the objections against using God's Covenant to support capital punishment goes, "if we use Moses to support capital punishment, we must also advocate killing adulterers, rebellious children and witches."

Not so.

In the Mosaic Covenant, God made a covenant with the Hebrew nation.  In the Noahic Covenant, God made a covenant with all of mankind.  In this covenant, God makes it clear that because of the preciousness of "imageo Dei" (the image of God) the taking of a human life warrants a punishment in kind.

Genesis 9:5-6

And for your lifeblood I will require a reckoning: from every beast I will require it and from man. From his fellow man I will require a reckoning for the life of man.

“Whoever sheds the blood of man,
by man shall his blood be shed,
for God made man in his own image

Genesis 9:11-12

I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations

God prescribed the death penalty, in the Noahic Covenant, for those who shed the blood of humans, whether man or beast, with the rainbow as the sign and seal, for "ALL FUTURE GENERATIONS" We find no mention of adultery, witches, rebellious children in this covenant with mankind, for all future generations.

The ESV Study Notes says here:

Human life is to be valued so highly that it is protected by this system of punishment because God made man in his own image, and so to murder another human being is to murder what is most like God, and is thus implicitly an attack on God himself. Many would see this statement as establishing the moral principle permitting the death penalty in cases of murder—with the understanding that the person charged would have been justly tried and his guilt established beyond any reasonable doubt (cf. the OT requirement of two or three witnesses, Deut. 19:15; repeated in the NT, e. g., Matt. 18:16; Heb. 10:28). A further requirement is that such a death- penalty verdict must always be carried out under the jurisdiction of the established authorities (cf. Deut. 19:15–21; Rom. 13:1–5). The difficulty of establishing guilt beyond any reasonable doubt and the difficulty of ensuring justice in a modern, complex urban society (as compared to an ancient village- based society) underscore the great care and caution that must be taken in applying this principle today.

This study note is important because Olson repeatedly ascribes  "blood lust" to those who support capital punishment.  This shows a lack of understanding between personal retribution and an adjudicated verdict carried out under the jurisdiction of the established authorities.

In the face of God's covenant with "all future generations," the accusation of "heresy"seems misplaced.  But he does make the accusation, teaching that he believes supporting capital punishment should be addressed through "church discipline."

"Sin" is addressed through church discipline...church discipline ends with excommunication and being treated as an unbeliever (Matt. 18:15-17.). The brunt of Olson's teaching says that those of us who believe that God's covenant with all of mankind, and all future generations says that: “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image" are in sin.

Olson writes:

I believe Christian churches of all kinds ought to do more to oppose capital punishment. They ought, at the very least, to declare it incompatible with Christian faith and put members who openly believe in it under some kind of discipline (not necessarily excommunication but at least forbidding them to teach it in the ecclesial context). And those who practice it, actively seeking it and participating in it, should be excommunicated from Christian churches. It ought to be a matter of status confessionis—as apartheid was declared by the World Alliance of Reformed Churches which helped lead to its downfall in South Africa.

There are three segments to the above paragraph.  We can call it the "doctrine of shut up"

1 - declare "it" incompatible with Christianity (shut up

2 - or come under church discipline (or we'll make you shut up)

3 - status confessionis - (if we can't make you shut up, we'll kick you out.)

Kevin DeYoung said, about "status confessionis:" It means that a particular doctrine is essential to who we are as a church. If something is status confessionis it means this is a make or break issue. It means that the church will not tolerate others views on this matter.

So, in short, God the Father, in the Noahic Covenant with mankind, for all future generations says, "Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image."

Roger Olson says, "we should not tolerate that."


"The Heresy of Orthodoxy"

In the first chapter, Kruger frames the direction of the book.

If "heresy" (divergent thinking) was the order of the day in the first and second century, and it wasn't until Rome had enough power to vote orthodoxy into place, heresy came first - and was the norm.  The idea that there was and "orthodoxy" was heretical (outside of common thinking)


If the writers of New Testament Scripture were unified in doctrine (although not necessarily practice), then there was an "orthodoxy" ("conforming to established doctrine especially in religion" - per Merriam-Webster) before the word "orthodoxy" was used.


My thinking is that if God, through the Holy Spirit, inspired the writers, He would not have inspired them to say conflicting things. (1 Corinthians 14:33 - For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.) There is no conflicting doctrinal statements in Scripture.

Yes, there was divergent thinking in the early church. Paul addressed it.

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. Gal 1:6-7

So there were doctrinal differences, but it was not a good thing.

What Walter Bauer misses is the men who codified "orthodoxy" He treats the topic as if they all just got together one day and decided to vote on what they liked best, and "orthodoxy" is no more correct (or incorrect) than the "different gospel."

In this case, "heresy" became heresy because of orthodoxy.

But...if what happened was that false teaching was becoming more prevalent and needed to be addressed by church leadership as a whole, they would have gathered together in prayer and study, in order to determine from Scripture what "orthodoxy" was. They weren't looking for what was most popular, they were looking for what was most true. Orthodoxy was codified in response to heresy - but it was present from the start.

In this case, "orthodoxy" came before heresy.


I'm starting to do this...not only with places I visit, but also my own blog.  What is the "mood"?  I'm all for controversey - iron sharpens iron.  But when it's all about that, moods change.

Look at the last 10 20 posts.

Are the posts (okay, take away the "fluff", which definately has its place in the fun) about what that person believes and feels?  Do the posts challenge you, without being insulting (unless you are insulted because people disagree with you )?

Do the posts primarily tell you what's wrong with everybody else?  This person's sin and that person's heresy?  That can get wearying.  I visit a couple of those because they sometimes have news items that are useful, but I can come away with an eye toward the worst of people, not the best.

I have strong opinions and I want to be able to put forth those strongly.  Positively:  This is what I believe.

I have (and will) at times write strongly about somebody I disagree with, but I don't want the message of my blog to be hate.

And I do see that out there.  One blog, in particular..was started as a (frustrated) response to being ignored and simultaneously attacked - and having their denomintion attacked with falsehood.  Their comments were deleted (as were mine, actually) so this blog was started that (in the earlier times) focused a lot on "this is what ___ has wrong".  I watched to see what would happen and over time it became less of that and more of an apologetics blog, "this is what we believe and the basis on which we believe it".  It is a pleasure to read because (even though I disagree with a few points) it is written (primarily) in a positive perspective - although at times it points back to the original reason for the creation of the blog.  Which is fine, since the disagreement is no longer the only focus, the apologetics contribute much.

Another blog I read...there is no such balance.  Nearly every post has invective in it.  It's in my blogfeed so I get new posts when they come out, but I skim and seldom stay long.  The impact on my emotions is not the best.  (If you think it's you, it mostly likely is not...if you're that curious, ask)
So, there it is in a nutshell.  Test the mood...


Q: What is "subordinationism"?

A: Very simply put (and there are many nuances), subordinationism is the belief that there is a hierarchy within the Godhead (Trinity) that has the Father as the head, with the Son and the Spirit flowing from the Father and in an equal, but submissive role. The main reason for this little series of posts is the way that it relates to the conversation on gender roles - I'm not sure that it plays a huge part, but the conversation did spark my curiosity.

Q: Is this the heresy of "Arianism"?

A: No. What was defined as heresy at the Council of Nicea

  • Arianism taught that Christ is a created being - of "like substance", but not the "same substance" - sort of a "lesser god" or "created god".
  • Arianism denied the full deity of Christ.
  • Ariansim denies that the Son is of one essence, nature, or substance with God; He is not consubstantial (homoousios) with the Father, and therefore not like Him, or equal in dignity, or co-eternal, or within the real sphere of Deity.

Q: What is different about the two?

A: Subordinationism declares that each member of the Trinity are individual persons, yet fully unified in will and purpose; each member of the Trinity is fully God.  James White, in "The Forgotten Trinity" puts in this way: There is One "WHAT" (the Godhead/Trinity).  Within that one WHAT, there are three "WHOS" (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit).  To deny that the persons of the Trinity are indeed three persons, is a denial of the Trinity that is known as "modalism" - held to by "Oneness" churches.
The Son and the Spirit are "generated" from the Father, yet all three are eternal and fully God and fully equal in person, dignity and deity. Are we confused yet? This is why the Trinity is called a "mystery".

Other helpful terms:


"The monarchy of the Father"


"Eternal Sonship"

It is a mistake to confuse the belief of eternal submission with the heresy of Arianism.


Firehouse Family Ministries (Guest Speakers at my Church)

“Apostle” Sherman L. Shelton and “Prophet” Corrine Shelton of “Firehouse Family Ministries” in New Orleans, LA.

I have concerns. BIG concerns.

I’m not quite sure where I stand on “prophetic gifts” and one thing I’ve said pretty consistently is that whether “gifts” are active today or not – the Pentecostals are doing it wrong (according to the Bible). But that’s for another day.

Today, let’s talk about doctrine.

I’m “reformed”. Not “Truly Reformed”, but reformed, so I’m coming at this from the reformed direction. I won’t be quoting the Confessions or Catechisms as though they are the Bible, but as a summation of what we believe the Bible teaches.

(words from Firehouse Family Ministries will be in green)

Section 1. The Scriptures Inspired.The Bible is the inspired Word of God, a revelation from God to man, the infallible rule of faith and conduct, and is superior to c onscience and reason, but not contrary to reason. (II Timothy 3:15-17; I Peter 1:15-17; Heb 4:12)

The Westminster Confession says, “IV. The authority of the Holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed, and obeyed, depends not upon the testimony of any man, or Church; but wholly upon God (who is truth itself) the author thereof: and therefore it is to be received, because it is the Word of God."

The last of the Scripture they list here (Hebrews 4:21) says: “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”

This is important, because it says the Bible judges my thoughts and attitudes. I don’t know about anybody else, but my thoughts and attitudes (and thus, my reason) are contrary to Scripture on a regular basis. By saying that Scripture is not contrary to (man’s) reason, we are using our own humanity as a God’s judge. Not a good plan. As the Confession says, the authority of the Holy Scripture does not depend on the testimony (or reason) of any man.

This is important, because antitrinitarians claim that the doctrine of the Trinity is contrary to reason; their statement of faith says that the Bible cannot be contrary to reason, therefore the doctrine of the Trinity is false.

Section 2. The One True Godhead. The triune Godhead is comprised of three (3) separate and distinct personalities, The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit, who are eternally self-existent, self-revealed and function as one entity. Jesus Christ, who is God manifested in the flesh, is the second member of the Godhead, co-equal and co-eternal with The Father and The Holy Spirit.

It is not entirely clear here whether this church is anti-Trinitarian. I suspect that they are. Key phrase is “three (3) separate and distinct personalities”. A Website that Firehouse Ministries links to says that “We believe in one God, eternal and self existent, self-revealed and manifested to man as Father, Son and Holy Ghost.” This denies the Trinity, in that they deny three persons – instead claiming “personalities”.

As the “United Pentecostal Church” website asks and answers, “Do these titles (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) as used in Matthew 28:19 mean that there are three separate and distinct persons in the Godhead? No, they refer to three offices, roles, or relationship to humanity."

The Westminster Confession states: “In the unity of the Godhead there be three Persons of one substance, power, and eternity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost. The Father is of none, neither begotten nor proceeding; the Son is eternally begotten of the Father; the Holy Ghost eternally proceeding from the Father and the Son."

I’ll let you decide where you think Firehouse Family Ministries fall.

Section 4. The Salvation of Man.

Man’s only hope of redemption is through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. On the cross Jesus Christ became sin and sickness providing both salvation and divine healing for all mankind.

Key phrase: “sin and sickness” – providing both salvation and divine healing. This opens the door for “Word Faith”.

2 Corinthians 5:21 says, "He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."

There is no mention of Christ becoming "sickness".

Section 8. The Evidence of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. The full consummation of the Baptism of believers in the Holy Spirit by the initial physical sign of speaking with other tongues as the Spirit gives utterance,

At least some of the early Christians spoke in tongues. There is not Biblical evidence to say that all believers spoke in tongues or that it is the “initial physical sign”.

1 Corinthians 12: 29-31 asks, "Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? 31But eagerly desire the greater gifts."

The answer is clearly, "no." Not every Christian in the apostles' day spoke in tongues - thus it could not have bee the evidence of the "Baptism of the Holy Spirit".

Paul goes on to say, "And now I will show you the most excellent way." This way is love, not tonuges.

Section 10. Total Prosperity.


“Name it and claim it”. “Blab it and grab it”. “Health and wealth” Gospel.

Section 14. Five-Fold Ministry. We believe that in order for the Church to truly reach God’s expectations we must have the presence and influence of the Apostle, the Prophet, the Evangelist, the Pastor and the Teacher operating through us. (Eph 4:7-16)

This is the sole passage for the “five fold ministry”. Here is a great article on apologeticsindex.org.

There are 15 sections; these are the most problematic. Thoughts, anybody?