What defines heresy?


#1

As a lot of you know, I'm in the process of converting to Catholicism. I was looking through some old threads about listening to Protestant teachers on TV, radio, etc. It seems like the general consensus was that this could be considered a sin, because it would fall under the category of listening or supporting heretical teachings. But what exactly defines heresy? If I convert to Catholicism, move back to my hometown (where there is no Catholic church within 50+ miles), and attend the church I grew up in, that my parents pastor, is this supporting heresy? Will I be sinning? If I go hear Lisa Bevere speak when she visits a womens conference, would that be sinning? I'm just a little confused - I didn't realize that every aspect of a person's doctrine had to line up with the Church's - I assumed that would rule out the vast majority of ALL teachers, Protestant or otherwise. Did I misinterpret something?


#2

Heresy is to knowingly teaching or proclaiming oppose the Church on an issue of faith or morals. Sin is to knowingly disobey god’s instruction. You may listen to anyone without sinning or committing heresy. If you support a heretic in regard to the heresy or support separation from the church (Protestant movement) then there are problems.


#3

In Scott Hahn’s conversion CD, he told stories where he would attend Mass and then go his wifes protestant church with her. She did not convert with Scott, but at a later date. It is not heresey to attend your parents church or a womens conference. I listen to a lot of protestant radio, due to limited Catholic radio, and for the most part, they are teaching Biblical Truths, and I can test my own knowledge by knowing when they have moved from the truth of the Gospel to simply “teaching what they were taught”.And just as a sidebar, you may want to get your Mom & Dad some of Scott Hahn’s CD’s, as he was an evangelical pastor and is very knowledgeable in explaining the faith to protestants. His web site is www.salvationhistory.com


#4

[quote="kalerumi, post:1, topic:182244"]
As a lot of you know, I'm in the process of converting to Catholicism. I was looking through some old threads about listening to Protestant teachers on TV, radio, etc. It seems like the general consensus was that this could be considered a sin, because it would fall under the category of listening or supporting heretical teachings. But what exactly defines heresy? If I convert to Catholicism, move back to my hometown (where there is no Catholic church within 50+ miles), and attend the church I grew up in, that my parents pastor, is this supporting heresy? Will I be sinning? If I go hear Lisa Bevere speak when she visits a womens conference, would that be sinning? I'm just a little confused - I didn't realize that every aspect of a person's doctrine had to line up with the Church's - I assumed that would rule out the vast majority of ALL teachers, Protestant or otherwise. Did I misinterpret something?

[/quote]

The Church teaching on heresy:

CCC 2089 Incredulity is the neglect of revealed truth or the willful refusal to assent to it.** "Heresy is the obstinate post-baptismal denial of some truth which must be believed with divine and catholic faith, or it is likewise an obstinate doubt concerning the same**; apostasy is the total repudiation of the Christian faith; schism is the refusal of submission to the Roman Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him."


#5

[quote="kalerumi, post:1, topic:182244"]
If I convert to Catholicism, move back to my hometown (where there is no Catholic church within 50+ miles), and attend the church I grew up in, that my parents pastor, is this supporting heresy? Will I be sinning?

[/quote]

First, it is a bad idea for a Catholic to live that far from the nearest Catholic Church. You should seriously consider living nearer to it.

Of course the answer to your question depends partly on whether you mean you will be driving 100 miles to get to Mass and back and then attending the service in your parents' church, or whether you mean to skip Mass and go to your parents' church instead. If it is the latter, missing Mass is still a mortal sin, and going to a protestant church does not make it better.

If you are intending to go to both Mass and your parents' service, that is probaby not sinful as long as you don't support the church financially. Whether it is a good idea is another question. Your parents would probably prefer you to stay in their denomination. If you go to their church often, you are either setting yourself up to leave the Catholic Church, or you are holding out false hope to your parents. Neither option is a good idea.

[quote="kalerumi, post:1, topic:182244"]
If I go hear Lisa Bevere speak when she visits a womens conference, would that be sinning?

[/quote]

Probably not. I don't know anything about her and her website apparently doesn't work with Firefox. As long as she's not actually anti-Catholic, it should be OK.

[quote="kalerumi, post:1, topic:182244"]
I'm just a little confused - I didn't realize that every aspect of a person's doctrine had to line up with the Church's - I assumed that would rule out the vast majority of ALL teachers, Protestant or otherwise. Did I misinterpret something?

[/quote]

It depends on what you mean by "the person." If the person you mean is yourself, then yes every aspect of your doctrine has to line up with the Church's. :)

If the person you mean is someone whom you are supporting financially through contributions, and that person is teaching about religion, then it may well be sinful if they are teaching things that are against the Catholic faith. If you are not supporting them financially, I don't personally think it is sinful, but I think it is REALLY REALLY unwise. When you are new to the faith, it is hard to know enough to know which teachings are against the Church and which aren't. It is a lot safer, at least for a couple of years, to get grounded in Catholicism first before spending a lot of time listening to Protestant teaching. EWTN is really good. I've never heard anything on it that was at all contrary to the Church's teachings. There are a lot of speakers out there that are faithful Catholics. The general idea is that as a Catholic, you would get your teaching from Catholics. :)

But OTOH if you are just talking about general motivational speakers, or classroom instructors in non-religious subjects, or anything like that, they can be any religion.

Anyway, that is how I see it, but I am not an expert.

God bless you on your journey!

--Jen


#6

kalerumi:

Having found and committed oneself to the true Church, forces will now try to set you back to indecision and uncertainty, and to keep you confused and try to impede your spiritual progression. Knowing you are now fully matured in Truth, gives you a lot of confidence and peace, has you have the Church for your teacher and advisor, putting into question any of their persuasion.

Some tried and true practices help the Catholic maintain the truthful path, and one is to obtain approval for learning material from official Church sources. Your parish priest will gladly help you with any issues of questionable value, and some dioceses have their own libraries that will stock only approved books and videos. As you become involved with Church groups you will learn to have comfortable chats with priests and informed lay people with whom you can have confidence. Another is to set for yourself some rules that you will follow such has staying clear of media,TV programs and people that are sponsored by other religions. Some of these have historical issues with the Catholic Church, and their intent is questionable. I wouldn’t put much worth on their contribution.

For something to be heretic, most theologians believe that the offense must be consummated, i.e. complete and perfected in its kind (in genere suo). It would appear true heresy calls for a lot of work. First, most would not pass on the bases of intent and motive, and a simple correction by one or two clergy sets the person straight. One who obstinately prepares a platform to advance his lies and ignores discretion such has by placing ads in the media, attending talk sessions, taking opportunity where thousands can be influenced,etc is definitely an aim for heresy. The final decision maker is the appointed judiciary counsel.

A heretic that has been outcast but now repents can once again become an accepted member of his Christian community by sincerely confessing to the Bishop or designated priest.

Andy:)


#7

To answer your question in this context: what defines a heresy?
I would say that protestant heresies are generally not an untruth, but a truth isolated from other truths.

For example: protestantism preaches salvation by faith alone, that works are not necessary for salvation. The Catholic Church dogmatically declares that a heresy. Sure we are saved by grace through faith, but we must obey God's commandments to love God and our neighbor if we want to be saved. Faith without love will not save anybody. So the protestant belief isolates a couple of verses in the Bible "for you are saved by grace through faith, and not by works so that no one should boast", and trump it over all other teachings, and thereby produces a heresy.

As you grow in your understanding and love of Catholicism, you will grow more acute in catching Protestant errors. For me it has become unbearable to hear a protestant preacher, because it is so clear that their spirit is not the same. Their preaching is often strident, mostly analytical, dry, and with little power to reach into the depth of a soul. They often grab a couple of verses in the Bible and analyze them to death, stripping them of their original spirit and purpose.

The only way to know a heresy is to know the truth. Once you know the spirit of Truth, anything that is not completely in line with that spirit is a heresy. Sometimes it can be very subtle, since it can be hard to perceive a person's spirit. So I'd say immerse more in Church teaching and writings of the Saints, get more acquainted with the authentic Spirit of Truth, which is divine charity, powerful in every way to convict us of sins and to call us to holiness. Then you will be more capable of discerning heresies.


#8

In addition to some other posts, here is what it takes for someone to become a heretic:

#1, in order to be culpable of heresy, one must be aware of the trueness of the Catholic faith from which they depart doctrinally. Traditionally, you can see a good definition from Thomas Aquinas:*The heretical tenets may be adhered to from involuntary causes: inculpable ignorance of the true creed, erroneous judgment, imperfect apprehension and comprehension of dogmas. In none of these does the will play an appreciable part, wherefore, one of the necessary conditions of sinfulness–free choice–is wanting and such heresy is merely subjective or material.*In other words, if you are honest in not understanding the Catholic faith as the true faith, you are not guilty of heresy.

Also from Catholic Answers:A person who is ready to be corrected or who is unaware that what he has been saying is against Church teaching is not a heretic.

So if you honestly don’t recognize the Catholic Church as THE Church in the first place, you cannot be guilty of heresy against it.

#2, the Church by no means teaches non-Catholics are outside the realm of salvation. From the Catechism:
CCC#847 Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience - those too may achieve eternal salvation.
So again, if you are sincere in not recognizing the Catholic Church as the Church Christ established and sincerely strive for truth, you too, can be saved.


#9

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