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Although I'm using the past-tense, "was" here, it is possible that a case could be made that heretics should still be killed but I'm not the one making that case. I guess we first must ask; What makes a person a heretic? Typically you will hear that heresy is simply going against the predominant view, in this case against whatever expression of Christianity is dominant. This is where a person may claim that everyone is a heretic to someone else over some issue or another; thus making relativistic the entire idea. This is especially true of how the Roman Catholic Church and the Protestants have interacted. To this day, there are many Roman Catholics and many Protestants that do not consider the other group to even be Christians. But, I'm not trying to be ecumenical here.
So, let us try to define heresy a little tighter. Romans 16:17-18 is perhaps the clearest biblical expression of what it means to be a heretic.
Don K. Preston, perhaps the last active "leader" within the hyperpreterist movement has begun a podcast series he is calling "Morning Musings". In this series, Preston recounts how and why he became a "full preteristi".
First, I always think it is amusing how Preston claims he is the "president" of "Preterist Research Institute" as if there is an entire staff of officers. It is basically just Preston. But anyhow, during the initial podcast Preston tells us he "doesn't worry about traditions" and "doesn't worry about the creeds" (minute 2:31-2:44). Really? So, Preston is admitting he is a lone-ranger who only "worries about" his own interpretations of the Bible. However, Jesus didn't come to found a disconnected faith of radical individualists. Jesus founded a community of believers with common held beliefs. (1 Corinthians 10:17, Philippians 1:27, Jude 1:3) This disconnecting from the historic Christian community is the first step to any heresy. Preston has in essence made himself his master and disciple, whereas the Bible says:
Preston tells us from the start that he "doesn't worry about" or rather doesn't CARE about these "traditions". Instead he wants to listen to his own voice alone.
Many of a full/hyperpreterist has launched into that "movement" first via the "partial-preterism" of men like Gary DeMar and even Kenneth Gentry; often citing their books. The difference between Gentry and DeMar is that Gentry has made it clear in print and audio that he believes full/hyper-preterism not to merely be a "dangerous error", but to be heresy on par with heresies like Arianismi or cults like Mormonism. DeMar, on the other hand has not only not called full/hyper-preterism a heresy, DeMar has actually spoken at full/hyper-preterist conferences without making any distinction. DeMar has joined numerous full/hyper-preterist message boards in support of it. DeMar allows his materials to be promoted and published on full/hyper-preterist websites. DeMar was once asked outright by now ex-full/hyper-preterist Sam Frost if DeMar thought it was heresy. DeMar answers that he doesn't think full preterismi is heretical (ref#1-mp3, ref#2, ref#3).
Mike Loomis, operator of the full/hyper-preterist podcast network, once said about DeMar:
In October 2008 I wrote to Whitefield Theological Seminary (WTS) and to its president and founder, Kenneth Talbot concerning its relationship with then hyperpreteristi leader Samuel M. Frost. Frost had long boasted that he in part arrived at his heretical position via the tools provided him by WTS and Frost had made a point of claiming he was accepted by Talbot as a Christian brother. This is confirmed by Talbot constantly calling Frost and other hyperpreterists, "brother" and validated by the FACT that Talbot was purportedly utilizing Frost to help develop the student Hebrew program for WTS. All of this while Frost was still hot and heavy into the heresy.
My inquiry to WTS and Talbot's surprisingly rather unChristian response (see full details), caused me to distance myself from the so-called "anti-hyperpreterist" community (and the feeling was mutual, as the anti-hyperprets saw in Talbot, a new champion despite his validation of heresy).
My contention then and now is unwavering; that a Christian or a Christian institution should NEVER appear to be validating known heresy. It doesn't matter if the institution is not the Church proper, it still wears the label of "Christian" and when a known heretic can use that institution's credibility to proffer him or herself as accepted within Christianity -- perhaps even as Christian -- then that Christian institution has done a great disservice to the Faith.
First, when people hear the word "heretic" or "heresy" they often feel some pity or sympathy for the person being called a heretic. Perhaps it is human nature to feel sorry for and root for the underdog. But is there EVER a right time to describe something as a heresy and the person advocating it a heretic?
To start, we must define what we mean by heresy. In the Christian sense, heresy is NOT simply something that goes against the teaching of those in control. Again, people often visualize the "big bad institutional church" forcing people to believe what the institution is teaching or else be labelled a heretic. However, to correctly define heresy we must decouple ourselves from the idea that the "church" is corrupt and trying to impose beliefs on the poor "followers". This wrong idea, may be a misunderstanding of Protestantism, where a person envisions themselves as a "little Martin Luther" taking on the Roman Catholic Church.
DEFINITION OF HERESY
The text in the Bible that perhaps most succinctly defines heresy is Romans 16:17-18.
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