“Perhaps on the rare occasion pursuing the right course demands an act of noble heresy …”
That’s Governor Swann’s comment about piracy, but I think it applies here. For too long people have been erring by obeying the letter of the law for fear of the uncontrollable freedom the spirit of the text allows. Churches have squandered an immeasurable amount of potential and people in order to get out of fulfilling their debt of love. That’s what noble heresies are – love carried out to the full, a 1 Corinthians 14 kind of love. It’s because you love someone you want to break the bonds that bind them, be they a systematic evil like slavery, a cultural evil like refusing rights, or a church-created evil as a result of bad theology. Let us love freely, let us love our neighbors, and let us love one another – even our brothers and sisters who don’t believe in noble heresies – we all need love.
I haven’t weighed in much on the Nashville Statement, save for a fewarticles I shared that summarize my feelings better than I could. I just didn’t have much to say that hadn’t already been said. But the phrase “noble heresy” came to mind during my morning “God time” today, and I feel compelled to explore that a bit further.
When I think of “noble heresies,” I think of the brave men and women who ostracized themselves in their congregations when their pastors preached on the wrong side of justice. I think of the Dietrich Bonhoeffers during the Holocaust, the abolitionists and civil rights protestors: many of whom risked their jobs, reputations, and even their lives because they truly believed that the church they loved was wrong about something.
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