Heretical Lexicology


“Thou believest a falsity! An heresy in truth!!”

“Thou art a heretic!”

Them thar are fightin’ words for most folks, but ought people to get so durned tied up aboot ’em?

I want to talk about the two above phrases from a lexicological point of view. To do this, let me first present to you a scenario:

Jenny tells you that google changed its name to topeka.

You find out that google did not change its name to topeka.

Did Jenny lie to you?

There are a few possibilities.

  1. She was knew the truth but told the falsehood anyway.
  2. She was told the truth but misunderstood it.
  3. She was told the falsehood by someone who knew the truth but told the falsehood anyway.
  4. She was told the falsehood by someone who was told the truth but misunderstood it.

So she was either lying, or she was mistaken (in her information or her sources), pretty much.

A heresy is something that disagrees with what God says in His Holy, inspired Word. Simple.

Webster’s 1828:

HER’ESY, n. [Gr. to take, to hold; L. haeresis.]
1. A fundamental error in religion, or an error of opinion respecting some fundamental doctrine of religion. But in countries where there is an established church, an opinion is deemed heresy, when it differs from that of the church. The Scriptures being the standard of faith, any opinion that is repugnant to its doctrines, is heresy; but as men differ in the interpretation of Scripture, an opinion deemed heretical by one body of christians, may be deemed orthodox by another. In Scripture and primitive usage, heresy meant merely sect, party, or the doctrines of a sect, as we now use denomination or persuasion, implying no reproach.
2. Heresy, in law, is an offense against christianity, consisting in a denial of some of its essential doctrines, publicly avowed and obstinately maintained.

There is quite a wide range of definitions there, but you will see how I have gleaned my simple definition (for this context) from it.

Now, it should be obvious by now that the two original statements are by no means equivalent.

If I say that you believe in a heresy, that does not mean that you are a heretic: A heretic is someone who teaches heresy. Just like a liar is someone who propagates lies. The difference is that a heretic can be a heretic mistakenly, whereas a liar cannot.

A heresy is an error. A mistake. (Most of the time.)

A lie is not an error: it is a deliberate falsifying of truth.

A heresy can be a lie, but it is not always a lie.

Another key point to point out is that you cannot be outside a group, and be a heretic of that group.

In other words, you cannot be a pagan, and a heretic at the same time. This is the only way that the word makes lexicological sense. If you remove the word ‘heretic’ from its current definition, making it equivalent to ‘pagan,’ there is nothing to replace it.

Also, ‘heretic’ is not insulting in the least. And saying that you believe in a heresy is even less so. It is merely a statement of disagreement over doctrine.

With joy and peace in Christ,

Jay Lauser


22 Responses

  1. I can’t even read that…. too small. 😛

  2. I had to read the post in your Buzz!

    The definition is very interesting. You may tell a lie purposefully, but that doesn’t make it heresy. Am I correct?

    • That works, or google reader. 🙂

      A lie is only heresy if it is about the doctrine of a group you are a part of. But not all heresies are lies: most of them are misunderstandings.

  3. That was cute. A pleasant kind of prank, that actually makes people smile. Like this — 🙂

    I cheated and pasted it into Word and changed the font.

    Thanks for reassuring me that I am not a pagan. Or a heretic. It is greatly appreciated.

    • That works! 🙂

      How did I do that? I didn’t mention any names. 🙂

    • Nevertheless, it was reassuring.

    • I am glad. Rendering a word that was erstwhile considered insulting innocuous ought to be reassuring.

    • Your dogmatic elucidation did undeniably render me more confident in my apodictic tenet.

    • Thank you for the new word! I like to make my edifications apodictically. 😉

    • Har har! You’re welcome!

      (P.S. I love my thesaurus.)

    • The only time I have used a thesaurus as a reference guide rather than entertainment reading was when I was making chronstrue. I generally don’t need it. I honestly consider such external aids cheating when I am obfuscating. But I am not of course accusing you of cheating at all. On the contrary, I applaud you. 🙂

    • Thank you for your (somewhat hubristic) explanation. It may be cheating, but it came up with a word you didn’t know anyway. Therefore it is educational.

      In the same context, you might consider using a dictionary cheating for the same reasons you consider a thesaurus cheating… something to ponder. 🙂

    • I sincerely apologize for the hubris.

      Yes indeed, very educational. 🙂

      Dictionaries and thesauruses are fundamentally different. But my rules are that if you force a reader to use a dictionary for a word that you used without the aid of a thesaurus, you win. 🙂

    • Good grief! Whatever! I’m outta here!

      (P.S. Sorry if that didn’t contain enough scarcely-known, many-syllabled words for you. 😛 )
      (P.P.S. You stick to your dictionary, I’ll stick to my thesaurus.)
      (P.P.P.S. Hahaha, no hard feelings, of course.)

    • Hahaha… ttyl! (Yes, I did just use a SIA on my blog.)

      No offense at all. I would not like to chase away any of my readers for any reason that could have been avoided without compromising my purpose and principles.

  4. Andrea said: “Your dogmatic elucidation did undeniably render me more confident in my *apodictic* tenet.”

    Ah ha! That’s where you got it from, Jay! 😀

    To Andrea: Very good, sister!! You made Jay look up a word! Congratulations! Hahaha.

  5. […] don’t attack. Being mistaken is never a sin in itself, even in matters of doctrine, and it is rarely very bad either. It can be dangerous, though, which should motivate us to be as […]

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