What if the majority of American Christianity was heretical? Should we address it? Should we find every single opportunity to correct and refine and redefine our faith? Or should we ignore it?
Now perhaps that is too bold of a statement to make. I may in fact be mistaken that the “majority” of American Christianity is heretical, but I am afraid that the numbers may be higher than we think…especially when we look at the more fundamental denominations in our faith.
So what is the heresy? What is heresy? Heresy is a belief or opinion contrary to Christian doctrine. Almost of all of the major heresies in the church were determined in the first few hundred years of our existence as great ecumenical councils came together to wrestle with this new type of faith. One such heresy that has been around from the times of the Gospels is Gnosticism.
Gnosticism essentially said that people are actually souls trapped in these terrible bodies of flesh. Our bodies are broken and sinful and diseases ridden and they exist in a world of filth, corruption and pollution. The “real me” has nothing to do with my body…the “real me” is trapped inside this body longing to get out. And to get out, all a person needs is the correct knowledge (or gnosis). If we want to escape this terrible world and become ourselves without our broken bodies anymore, all we need is to see the light and know the right stuff.
Have you ever heard a message like that in a church? This world’s not our home…our bodies have nothing to offer…just pray this prayer; believe this way; have this knowledge…and know that one day you will be home (i.e. your soul will be in heaven…). Have you ever really listened and thought about some of the old gospel songs we sing:
This world is not my home I’m just a passing through
My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue
The angels beckon me from heaven’s open door
And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore
– from “This world is not my home” by Jim Reeves
Too many churches and pastors have unknowingly taken their theology lessons from Plato instead of our Gospels…especially the Gospel of John! The word became flesh….flesh…body…This was written to combat the ideas of Gnosticism. This was written to remind everyone of who we are as people. This was written because if Gnosticism was allowed to run rampant what would happen?
Bodies don’t matter anymore…As Wendell Berry has said, “while the body goes about its business of destroying the earth, the soul is supposed to wait for Sunday…while the body exploits other bodies, the soul stands aloof, free from sin, crying… ‘I am not enjoying it.’” Why should the body of Christ matter if we are just souls waiting on a transport? Why should our bodies or creation matter if they’re just evil anyway? What if it was this hatred for our bodies that paved the way to hate other bodies? Why not then hate the bodies of slaves or women or animals or the earth? Sound familiar? Seen the news recently?
What if we were called to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice not to appease and pave the way for our souls, but to offer all of ourselves to the transformative grace of God?