Monday, May 22, 2017

The Lure of Heresy

Never has there been such interest in the idea of heresy. Ancient heresies, seen by earlier generations as obscure and dangerous ideas, have now been sprinkled with stardust. The lure of the religious forbidden never seems to have been so strong. As Geoffrey Chaucer shrewdly observed back in the fourteenth century: ‘Forbid us something, and that thing we desire’. For many religious alienated individuals, heresies are now to be seen as bold and brave statements of spiritual freedom, to be valued rather than avoided. Heresies are the plucky losers in past battles for orthodoxy, defeated by the brute power of the religious establishment. And since history is written by the winners, heresies have unfairly lost out, their spiritual and intellectual virtues stifled by their enemies. The rehabilitation of heretical ideas is now sees as a necessary correction of past injustices, allowing the rebirth of suppressed versions of Christianity more attuned to contemporary culture than traditional orthodoxy. Heresy has become fashionable.” Alister McGrath, Heresy: A History of Defending the Truth (HarperOne, 2009), p. 1 

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