For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.
(1 Corinthians 11:19)
It is well known that one man’s meat is another man’s – forgive for using “man” and not the politically correct “person.” You must admit, though, “one person’s meat…” would sound silly – poison. En passant, it’s less well known that in France one man’s meat is another man’s poisson (fish). In religion we also know that one man’s heretic is another man’s (true) believer. This does not mean that heretics can’t teach a believer anything, or that a believer can teach a heretic everything. In a Reformation21 blog post, Mark Jones says we can indeed learn from heretics. In his “Quoting ‘Heretics’ Approvingly,” Jones asks:
“Who are Reformed Christians, theologians, and pastors allowed to read? Or, more specifically, who are we allowed to cite positively in our writings and conversations?”
Jones gives examples of heretics that Thomas Goodwin, English theologian and preacher, cites approvingly. One of these “heretics” is (Saint) Bonaventure, called the “Seraphic Doctor.” Although Goodwin, says Jones, accuses Bonaventure of having a defective view of original sin (who hasn’t?), he also calls Bonaventure “the holiest of them (the “Schoolmen” – the Medieval scholastics).
Here is what the “holiest of them” did to the Lord of the Psalms.
Bonaventure – In thee, O Lady, have I hoped, let me never be confounded: receive me in thy grace. Thou art my strength and my refuge: my consolation and my protection. To thee, O Lady, have I cried, when my heart was in anguish: and thou hast heard me from the heights of the eternal hills. Thou shalt draw me out of the snares which they hid for me: for thou art my helper. Into thy hands, O Lady, I commend my spirit: my whole life and my last day.
Bible – 1. I will exalt you, Lord, for you lifted me out of the depths and did not let my enemies gloat over me. 2. Lord my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me. 3. You, Lord, brought me up from the realm of the dead; you spared me from going down to the pit. 4. Sing the praises of the Lord, you his faithful people; praise his holy name. (See more of Bonaventure here).
Let me have a bash. Can I emulate the Seraphic Doctor?
6 In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also thee, O Lady, sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.
2 Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly.
3 And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Mother of the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of her glory.
4 And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.
5 Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the Queen, the Mother of the Lord of hosts.
Well blow me down, I’ve been pipped.