If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed: Of damnable and non-damnable heresy, and blindness


Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” 40 Some of the Pharisees near him heard these things, and said to him, “Are we also blind?” 41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.

(John 9)

Paul says in Galatians that the person who does not believe this gospel let him be anathema, accursed, that is “go to hell.” What is this gospel? Consider the doctrine of atonement. Does Paul teach penal substitutionary atonement, that is, Christ suffered in the sinner’s place to propitiate the wrath of God where the punishment the sinner deserved is put on, imputed to, Christ? Some say the Bible does teach that, and that is why they reject Christianity (see Randall Rauser’s “The death of Jesus, the rape of a woman and concept called imputation” and comments), while others, the majority of Christians, say that the Bible does not teach that, and that is the reason why they are Christians. If penal substitutionary atonement is in the Bible, the question is, “Is it a damnable heresy?” There is heresy and damnable heresy. James White explains this distinction to a caller on his “Dividing Line” (October 29, 2013; 10 minutes from the end).

Here is my transcript:

(My clarifications are in square brackets).

 Caller – How would you define heresy? Michael Brown, on his Line of Fire, describes it as an error that will send them to hell if they believed it.

White: That’s [that kind of heresy is] a damnable heresy. There are damnable heresies and non-damnable heresies. At least in the history of the church, that has been the case. And so a damnable heresy is a heresy that would demonstrate that the person promoting it is not in Christ. It would involve a denial of Christ, a promotion of a false Gospel, etc. indicative of a person who is not a follower of Christ. There are people who would hold to a heresy but are not damned a a result. So, for example, there are Christians, who out of ignorance are modalists [God is not a trinity but takes on alternate roles of father, son, holy spirit]. If the only people going to heaven have a perfect knowledge of the trinity, well, heaven is going to have a lot of space left over. The difference being between a person who knows the truth of what the trinity is and denies it, and a person who does not know what the truth is, and out of ignorance denies those type of things. So, there are all levels of heresy, and some are minor things. I mean you could make the definition that heresy is anything that involves false teaching. Since none of us has a perfect understanding of all things in this life, then we are all heretics on some level. I’ve got blind spots some place and I am going to find out what they re after this live is over. If you make the standard perfection – this is where hyper-Calvinists, hyper-Arminians and hyper people in general fall off the boat is they end up drawing the circle so tightly that they have to stand on one foot to remain in it. Ans so on that level, everyone would be a heretic. So, I think there needs to be some thought put into how exactly you would define these things. I would consider Todd Bentley a heretic. I would consider Benny Hinn a heretic. Their teachings are false and their lives are false. They’re obviously doing this for money, fame, power, they’re robbing the sheep blind, and that’s the kind of heresy unfortunately today in the Charismatic movement you’re not allowed to call that heresy or call them heretics or false teachers, false prophets o anything else because look at all their “fruit” quote unquote.

Caller – How would you distinguish, how would you define blasphemy from these things? Is that just an error?

White – No, well, I mean, the specific term mean to speak against. So, for example, when Jesus speaks of the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, not being forgiven in this age or the age to come, the person is guilty of an eternal sin. He says this in the context of all sorts of things spoken against the son of man will be forgiven him but blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. The reason for t hat is that the Holy Spirit is the means by which repentance comes…The point is you’re speaking against something. We need to be careful what we identify as blasphemy. It’s pretty easy to rile up your base by pulling out the blasphemy term, but fundamentally from a biblical perspective a blasphemous teaching would be a teaching that is so obviously false tat it speaks against the character and truths of God… For example, being drunk in the Holy Spirit; hat is clearly an attribution to the Holy Spirit of God of activities that are directly contrary and to his character and purposes…We have to be careful that every tine we see somebody doing something that is inappropriate in worship that that necessarily is blasphemous. We have to be very careful. It is certainly a very strong term. It’s been used against me many times by many a person saying “your teaching I blasphemous.” What they mean by his is that they disagree with my teaching. A consistent Arminian [your faith causes God to remove your heart of stone and regenerate you] would find my teaching [faith follows regeneration] blasphemous; in the same way that I would find their consistent teaching heretical. There has to be some specific speaking against the character and attributes of God for that to be an appropriate use of the term. We must be careful when we use it because it’s easy to slip into when we are preaching, you get all riled up, and you’re really convinced that what you’re saying is true.

End of transcript.

Jesus said, as White indicated, “Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man, and whatever blasphemies they utter, 29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin” (Mark 3:28). The reason why they are guilty of an eternal sin – and thus – eternal damnation – is given in the next verse: —30 for they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit.” Yet Jesus also says that if they do not believe that “I am he” (the Messiah and arguably the divine Son of God as well), this would be a a damnable sin: “I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins.” (John 8:24, ESV). Here, Jesus is talking to Jews who  “believed in” (falsely) him. “So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?” (John 8:31-33, ESV). As White says, we all have blind spots. The question, though, remains: “What kind of blindness is damnable and what isn’t? In other words what does a professing Christian have to disbelieve to be addressed like this”

6 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— 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.

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4 thoughts on “If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed: Of damnable and non-damnable heresy, and blindness

  1. As you know, another important aspect of the gospel is justification by faith (as opposed to by Law, i.e. some form of keeping Torah). Paul discusses this in Romans chapter 4 and in Ephesians chapter 2.

    • Hi David

      Good to hear from you again. According to Paul in Galatians,

      Galatians 3:11-14
      no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. 12 And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them.
      13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: 14 That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

      The Apostle James does say that one is justified by works. The Roman Catholic will say, “see we are justified by faith AND works.” Yet Paul is saying that it is a damnable heresy to believe that. Most Protestants argue that James means that faith produces good works.

      More pertinently, it seems that James White’s argument is that if the heresy is the result of the believer’s inconsistency, then the heresy is not damnable, for, according to White only consistent heretics are damned, that is, those who have their eyes open wide. White says that God’s grace keeps a person inconsistent, which means God saves them from damnation. This explanation is problematic because James White seems to be saying that one kind of blindness is damnable while another kind is not (because it is the result of God’s grace).

  2. Raphael,

    In part of your reply to David:

    ‘ . . . Most Protestants argue that [Apostle] James means that faith produces good works . . . ‘

    I take it that you agree with this? If you do, are you saying that only people with faith can do good works? Further, are you saying that only people with faith in Jesus can do good works? I say to you: what about all the good works that are done by those without faith? Are these not ‘good works’ because faith did not produce them?

    Also in your reply to David:

    ‘ . . . James White seems to be saying that one kind of blindness is damnable while another is not (because it is the result of God’s grace.).’

    I take it that you, yourself, do not believe this? If so, in your view, all nonbelievers in Christianity are blind and damned? I would like you to think about that.

    Karen

    On Thu, Oct 31, 2013 at 5:52 AM, OneDaringJew

    • Karen

      In part of your reply to David:

      ‘ . . . Most Protestants argue that [Apostle] James means that faith produces good works . . . ‘

      Reply – Every human being does good works, some more than others. The New Testament teaches that good works without faith in Christ is worthless for salvation.

      Also in your reply to David:

      ‘ . . . James White seems to be saying that one kind of blindness is damnable while another is not (because it is the result of God’s grace.).’

      I take it that you, yourself, do not believe this? If so, in your view, all nonbelievers in Christianity are blind and damned? I would like you to think about that.

      Reply: The Bible teaches that everyone is born under a curse (of a sin nature), which means they are alienated from God. It is only through faith alone (works excluded) in Christ’s sacrifice and his resurrection that we can be reconciled to God, that is, “justified.” Now, those (Christians) who believe this often disagree on other doctrines, some very important, others not so important. (Christians differ on what is important, that is, on what is of eternal import). Very important to most Christians would be the doctrine of the Trinity. Less important would be the role of grace in coming to faith – in other words, does God alone save (Calvinism) or do sinners have to allow God to save them (Arminianism). Only one of these two views can be right. Now, here we come to the heart of the matter: the one who is wrong is blind. The question now is “what is the cause of this blindness in the person?” Is it confusion or refusal? One cannot be sure what is going on in the person’s mind; only God knows – more than knows because God ordains everything that comes to pass. (This is not the place to discuss the relationship between 1. God’s control over everything, including evil/sin), and 2. human accountability). If God controls everything, this must include opening and shutting eyes. So if, for instance, the Trinity is correct, this would mean that God has blinded the Unitarian (both the trinitarian and the unitarian are monotheists). This does not mean that the Unitarian HERESY is damnable. Of course, many Christians would say it is. Likewise some Calvinists (hyperCalvinists?) would say that Arminianism is damnable, while some Arminians (hyperArminians?) will say that Calvinism is damnable.

      The bottom line, as far as blindness goes, is that it is God who ordains blindness, damnable and non-damnable – keeping in mind that all are born in a damnable state (Original sin). I must add that many Christians don’t believe in Original sin (“it’s so unfair!”). Now, the disbelief in Original sin, I would consider (from my understanding of the New Testament) damnable. What is more, it is the rejection of the doctrine of original sin (the radical corruption of human nature) that is the root cause of all spiritual blindness and heresies.

      These matters make no sense, of course, to a non-Christian. Why don’t they make sense? Either because of confusion or refusal – blindness. And who is in control of this blindness?
      A holy wholly good God.

      Let every mouth be stopped.

      On Thu, Oct 31, 2013 at 5:52 AM, OneDaringJew

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