This is from Josh over at the blog ‘In Search of the City’. I found it quite intriguing as well as challenging, perhaps you will too.
Strictly speaking, a “heretic” is someone who causes division. That is what the word actually means.
In the first century the term was applied to certain people whose teaching stood at odds with the testimony of the apostles concerning Christ. Their “false gospels” brought division to the church as they chose their own opinion over the eye-witness testimony of those who had been with Jesus.
Interestingly enough, the first visible threats of division in early Christian history were not over any kind of teaching whatsoever. The first threat, in Jerusalem, was over the alleged favoritism shown by Jewish brothers to their own kin in the food distribution line see Acts 6. The second threat, in Antioch, was over Peter’s hypocrisy in bowing to the pressure of James’ friends and refusing to eat with Gentiles Galatians 2:11-13. It wasn’t until the Judaizers arrived in Galatia and tried to undermine the disciples’ faith that any issue of “false teaching” came into play.
Much has changed over the ensuing centuries and much has remained the same. Christians still deal with the issue of false teaching, there is no doubt about that, but something even more insidious has crept in to try the hearts of the faithful. Something I like to call the heresy of orthodoxy.
In the second and third centuries the churches began to institutionalize, a trend that swept south from Rome and north from Jerusalem. Apostolic leadership gave place to the consolidation of power in the office of the bishop, and as a result the assemblies lost both their local character and organic nature. The decline was gradual. A bit of mixture here, a little compromise there. Over time the ways of the church began to look more and more like the ways of the world.
In the first century it had been the religious man–the Judaizer–who threatened the life of the assemblies. That battle was fought and won by men the likes of Paul, men in whose hearts the daystar had risen, who knew the full meaning of Christ crucified and who warred not in the flesh but with mighty spiritual weapons.
Centuries two and three brought an onslaught of a different kind with the influx of Greek philosophy into the Christian fellowship. Little did the….read the entire article via John MacArthur, Strange Fire, & the heresy of orthodoxy | In Search of the City.