Who’s Heresy ?

April 21, 2008

This post forms part of the schycroblog “Emerging heresy”


“One of the most deplorable aspects of the postmodern era and its so-called ‘thought’ is the return of the religious dimension in all its different guises: from Christian and other fundamentalisms, through the multitude of New Age spiritualisms, up to the emerging religious sensitivity within deconstructionism itself(so-called ‘post-secular’ thought).”

“– the authentic Christian legacy is much too precious to be left to the fundamentalist freaks.”

“Even those who acknowledge this direct lineage from Christianity to Marxism, however, usually fetishize the early ‘authentic’ followers of Christ   against the Church’s ‘institutionalization’ epitomized by the name of Saint Paul: yes to Christ’s “original authentic message; , no to its transformation into the body of teaching that legitimizes the Church as a social institution.”

The above are abstracts taken from opening salvo of  The Fragile Absolute – or, why is the Christian legacy worth fighting for? “ by the outrageous philosopher  and writer  Slavoj Zizek .  This book was first published in ”pre9/11” 2000.

What is Zizek’s point?

Well,  he goes on to draw a parallel between the authentic message of Christ and the ‘institutionalization’ by Saint Paul with the early authentic Marx and the resulting Leninism . Ok, this was part of a bold attempt by Zizek to reconcile Marxism and Christianity. It must be tough being an atheist Marxist with a need to preserve some form of Christian orthodoxy !!!   Now, Zizek in further writings goes on to explain that he is not alluding to the traditional evangelical style but a radical “in a properly Marxist way” and refers to “the truly subversive, even revolutionary, character of orthodoxy.”  However, he has his own motives, in drawing the comparison between Paul and Lenin in describing Paul,  after his conversation, as setting about “his true Leninist business, that of organizing the new party called Christian community.”  For Zizek, the early church is a parallel to Lenin’s Communist Party:  a “strong organization of revolutionaries.”  


“Two thousand years ago God started a revolt against the religion He started . So don’t ever put it past God to cause a groundswell movement against churches and Christian institutions that bear His name. If He was willing to turn Judaism upside down, don’t think for a moment our institutions are safe from divine revolt.  I am convinced that even now there are multitudes of followers of Jesus Christ who are sick and tired of the church playing games and playing down the call of God. My travels only confirm that the murmurings of revolution are everywhere. I am convinced that there is an uprising in the works and that no one less than God is behind it.” – Erwin McManus

This is a radical statement from a recognised leader in the Emerging Church Movement in the USA. Erwin McManus is the leader of Mosiac in Los Angeles, USA


“We play at Christianity. ….. In this way the Orthodox Church is far more dangerous to Christianity than any heresy or schism.”  – Soren Kieregaard      


Contributors to the synchroblog






27 Responses to “Who’s Heresy ?”

  1. […] of the Creator and Face forward Cobusvw – Conversing with the heretics FakeExpressionsOfTheUnknown Who’s Heresy Liquid Light – Coming out a heretic emerges Mike Smith – Emerging Heresy Nic Paton – The Lif Cycle […]

  2. timvictor Says:

    To quote NT Wright – “Jesus accomplished something and Paul applied it.”

    I don’t believe the church in institutional form of necessity fails to be what Godde intended. It is only when a franchise becomes a hegemony removed from Godde and seeking to control others that it has gone wrong – e.g. the Roman Catholic church during it’s dark period and the segments of the Evangelical mainstream today, i.e. Most especially when it becomes Pharisaical.

    That said, I’m with Soren – the church sometimes becomes the stumbling block to finding and experiencing Godde. That’s certainl been my predominant impression while seeking to work with spiritual seekers.

  3. Nic Paton Says:

    “Two thousand years ago God started a revolt against the religion He started”

    That’s squarely placing G-d in the role of heretic. Interesting – I have been debating whether the Ultimate Curator of Truth can indeed be contained by the term heretic, any more than they may be contained in the term “doctrine”.

    I often thought of Paul as the problem, but after some deconstruction came to appreciate his contribution from a Creation Spirituality POV.

    OK if Jesus is Marx and Paul is Lenin, who is Stalin?

  4. […] of the Creator and Face forward Cobusvw – Conversing with the heretics FakeExpressionsOfTheUnknown Who’s Heresy Liquid Light – Coming out a heretic emerges Mike Smith – Emerging Heresy Nic Paton – The Lif Cycle […]

  5. stray Says:

    That quote from Erwin McManus is really insightful – very interesting!

  6. […] of the Creator and Face forward Cobusvw – Conversing with the heretics FakeExpressionsOfTheUnknown Who’s Heresy Liquid Light – Coming out a heretic emerges Mike Smith – Emerging Heresy Nic Paton – The Lif Cycle […]

  7. Yvonne Says:

    Buddhism is an interesting parallel here.

    Buddha founded Theravada Buddhism and the view that nirvana was simply the cessation of being, and was essentially an individual process.

    Mahayana Buddhism introduced the idea of Bodhisattvas – people who remain incarnate until all sentient beings achieve Nirvana.

    Which of these is more authentically Buddhist? The development of the doctrine, or the original doctrine?

    In the case of Paul and Jesus, I would say that Paul introduced the exclusive element into Christianity and Jesus was more of a universalist. So I prefer Jesus.

  8. Hi all

    Thank you for your comments. I have been away on business since I presented this postings as part of the Synchroblog. Therefore, I must ask for forgiveness for not have curated the comments over the last week.


    I fully agree with you. I think Paul would have struggled to fit in to any the many “orthodoxies” today or during church history. I see Paul “Christ focused” and not “Jesus Focused”


    Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. John 14:6 – Heresy!!! …even to emerging orthodoxy!?!??!!

    Stalin = Pope = Ratzinger???


    Welcome to my blog and thanks for the comment.


    Welcome, I consider myself a follower of Jesus and believe that there needs to be a great more focus on the simple and universal teachings of Jesus.


  9. timvictor Says:

    feotu, you say you see Paul as “Christ” focused more than “Jesus” focused… ? Care to elaborate?

  10. Andrew Says:

    In a nutshell, We have the teachings of Jesus on the . (ie. sermon on the mount, parables, teachings in the temple, KIngdom of God etc..)To focus on this aspect is what I would call “Jesus” focused. The teachings of Paul were looking at the result of the death and resurrection of the Jesus Christ and his divine nature. (ie. a focus on salvation and Christ/God)

  11. liquidlight Says:

    to throw some spandex in the works here, did Paul ever refer to his own writings as being “scripture”, in the same way that he describes “the psalms, the law and the prophets”?

    if so, where and if not, why are his writings treated as such? it would be hard to argue that his teachings aren’t given at least equal weight as those of Yeshua/Jesus Himself.

  12. Andrew Says:


    I don’t think Paul saw his letters as the “inspired word of God”. I don’t think the Writers of the Gospels saw there writings as the “inspired word of God”. But in both cases they are deemed to be so by believers over the course of history of the Church. I’m more concerned with why I have a love for Jesus and his teaching and then we have the shift found in Paul’s letters. I then struggle connect with this Divine (cosmic, supernatural, Yahweh) nature of Christ.

  13. timvictor Says:


    Have you ever looked at the history of the formation of the canon of Scripture? There are various reasons for including Paul’s writings in the canon just as there are good reasons for excluding others, e.g. Shepherd of Hermas.

  14. timvictor Says:


    I think you’re on to something deep and important in personalising the question. The academic concerns and the personal journey deal with different concerns.

    What is your struggle with Jesus? Do you link the historical man-Godde with the Son of Godde / Christ or differentiate between the two? Or am I missing your question/reference entirely by asking that question?

  15. liquidlight Says:


    i haven’t spent that much time exploring the formation of the scriptural canon we’ve been handed – i’m aware that it went throught all sorts of changes and debate, but that’s as far as it goes.

    personally i find the belief that G-d breathed or guided every single word of scripture – thus implying it’s complete inerrancy – and guided the selection of only those 66 books, as unnecessary, unhelpful and unbelievable.

    for example, Jude quotes the Book of Enoch and yet Enoch is not included in the canon. neither is the Gospel of Thomas, which to me contains far greater wisdom & authenticity than a number of new testament books. i intuit that the canon was shaped by a combination of spiritual & political forces.

    what you reckon?

    i like what the great rabbi, Hillel said, when asked to summarise the scriptures: “that which you hate, don’t do to others – the rest is commentary.” – that’s a loose quote.

    or Christ, when asked by a rabbi what he needed to do to inherit eternal life: “love your neighbour as yourself and G-d with your all”.

    finish en klaar.

    simple as snot.

  16. timvictor Says:


    Whether one subscribes to which version of innerancy and inspiration is not an issue for me. IMO the scriptures are inspired by Godde while being fully human works.

    I believe the formation of the canon is revelant and especially so when labelling a text a “gospel” or not and equally important when using words like “authentic”.

    If the litmus test of “truth” and “authenticity” is purely personal then why don’t we just make it up for ourselves? Why do we even relate to a historical source, like Jesus, to support our “truth”?

    Am I correct in understanding that the Gospel of Thomas is attributed to one of the disciples of Manes (i.e. Manichaeism) who proposed that there are two principles or gods, the one good and the other evil? If so, then there’s good reason why those compiling the NT canon would not include such a foreign theology and one of its related texts.

  17. liquidlight Says:

    hi Tim.

    as far as the Gospel of Thomas having been written by one of Mani’s disciples, that would date the GoT well into the 3rd century. while some scholars believe it to be older than the canonical gospels – and possibly the very “Q” document itself – i think the majority would not date it as late as the 3rd century and therefore, not a product of Mani’s disciple.

    i too see the scriptures as G-d inspired, but no more so that many works of great art, other holy scriptures etc. surely inspired is inspired.

    i’ve never held that the litmus test of “truth” and “authenticity” is purely personal – believing i am an extra-terrestrial from Sirius B doesn’t make it so. however conversely, neither does a bunch of theologians getting together to debate, guarantee the right outcome.

    i appreciate the advantages of a closed canon of scripture, but also see it’s drawbacks. i also have strong doubts that Paul considered his writings “scripture” on the same level as “the law, the psalms and the prophets”.

    the GoT strikes me as having real spiritual weight & depth. the fact that it didn’t make the canonical cut doesn’t detract from the immense value i find within it.

  18. timvictor Says:

    I’ve never heard anyone reference the GoT in terms of “Q”? Love to read their stuff if you can point me in their direction. I don’t personally go with a date earlier than the canonical gospels, well at least not Mark. But in the realm of opinion that matters nothing.

    I don’t personally dispute the value it has for you or anyone else, but I do recognise the Gnostic stream as a divergent one to the stream I’m part of.

  19. I might appear to be anti-Paul. ( I’m not), but I do find GTh and the 4fold Gospels more congruent than Paul’s subsequent letters. I don’t see GTh as Gnostic in the same way as most, if not all the rest, of the Nag Hammadi Library. I think that you can be a follower of Jesus and accept GTh as inspired and authentic.

    I personally find GTh more helpful and than the book of Rev. for example.

  20. liquidlight Says:


    in terms of the idea that Q = GoT, this is not something i have researched in any depth, but given it’s relatively early dating and the fact that it is a list/source of sayings – which theologians tend to see Q as being – i suppose it was natural to suggest that as a possibility.

    i only consider myself a “gnostic” insofar as i seek the knowledge that Christ claimed sets us free. St Francis said, “what you are looking for is what is looking”, a gnostic koan if ever there was one. Meister Eckardt and others could also be considered gnostic in a certain sense.

    Christ knew the truth and in that sense, is the ultimate gnostic. i see gnosis as encapsulating a state of being and not a set of doctrines. so maybe you are more of a gnostic than u think, from an experiential perspective.

    the gospel of thomas is very close to the canonicals, especially John and i feel, rewards meditation.

    go well meantime.


  21. liquidlight Says:

    Tim, you’ve probably noticed that i’m far less rigorous in my theology than the likes of Nic and yourself.

    this tendency of mine is also reflected in my approach to music making, as i have purposely avoided learning about musical theory in relation to songwriting – which chord should go with which etc – trusting rather my intuition in deciding on the most appropriate structure.

    we all have an important part to play in this emergent thingamajiggie and i look forward to taking part in one of the gatherings when we’re over next. Nic mentioned that you guys had an interesting visit to a church in Durbanville the other weekend.

    thanks for your contribution & have a lekker naweek.

    adios, russ.

  22. timvictor Says:


    Thanks for clarifying. In that sense I’m also “gnostic” rather than “Gnostic”.

    Unfortunately I’m wired theologically but fortunately with a mystic bent 😉

  23. Russ, Tim

    Thanks to both of you for the discussion. I’m honoured by your openness.

    I find labels, mostly, a problem when dealing with individual faith/ doubt (trust/ distrust). This is unless, you a denominationalized, pew-warming, lobotomized, religious, weekend Christian. What we are talking about is a relationship between an unique individual and God/Jesus.

    We are each searching for the touch of God in our lives. We want to “know” God. This was the simple message of Jesus. “And this is the way to have eternal life—to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth. “ John 17:3. The word “Know” was a euphemism for sex in biblical times. (i.e. Mary was a virgin, Joseph did not know Mary until after Jesus was born. Matthew 1:25 paraphrased). Knowing can be seen as an intimate union … taken a step further, an intimate, loving, faithful, trusting union with God/Jesus. At times it can feel just the opposite. From Gnosis to Mystery

  24. John Says:

    These two references point out how/why the church became a would be world-conquering power and control seeking institution, and an integral player in the Western drive to total power and control

    1. http://www.beezone.com/AdiDa/jesusandme.html

    2. http://www.dabase.org/proofch6.htm

    Plus this reference describes the situation inevitably created by this power seeking meme

    1. http://www.beezone.com/AdiDa/reality-humanity.html

    The above essay comes from this book.

    1. http://global.adidam.org/books/not-two-is-peace.html

  25. […] Creator and Face forward Cobusvw – Conversing with the heretics FakeExpressionsOfTheUnknown Who’s Heresy Liquid Light – Coming out a heretic emerges Mike Smith – Emerging Heresy Nic Paton […]

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