Word of the Day: Heresy

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Heresy is an opinion that goes against the values of an established doctrine or system. It is commonly used in the religious context.

He is quick to acknowledge that scholarship is not more important than sanctity, but he still argues that it is sinful, and a kind of heresy, for evangelical Christianity not to honor God’s creation with study and contemplation. (NY Times)

Surely their beliefs are strong enough to stand up to a children’s story. And surely Hollywood can put more faith in the power of great fiction. Fiddling with art to appease narrow-minded interest groups is its own heresy, one with which Hollywood unfortunately is all too familiar. (LA Times)

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6 thoughts on “Word of the Day: Heresy”

  1. @Brad K., I would say the opinion itself, since one can be an heretic even without publishing his thoughts/ideas.

    What do you think?

  2. Daniel,

    The only time I have heard heretic (one who holds to heresy) or heresy used, that wasn’t an accusation, was in that song about “call me heretic, call me what you will”.

    It almost seems that heresy is like the comic’s “New Jersey Laws” – nothing is illegal, as long as you don’t get caught.

    I guess I am thinking that heretic is a label used as a reaction to publishing of contrary thought.

    Most every system and faith reacts to expression, in word or deed, of heresy, rather than heretic-like opinion unexpressed. I would argue that waiving recognition of the thought or opinion as heretic moves the definition to publishing such though, rather than the opinion or thought itself.

    Martin Luther believed that his questions of the Church and scriptures was rigorous scholarship, within the bounds of faith. When he posted his questions, though, the Church reacted with accusations of heresy. That is, it wasn’t heresy, or at least labeled or recognized as heresy, until someone reacted to publication of the thought or opinion.

    So heresy requires three parts – the non-conforming thought, publication, and reaction to the publication.

  3. I disagree with Brad. Heresy is “wrong opinion” (as defined by a particular group) published or otherwise.

    An earlier meaning of the term as used by Western writers was something like “school of thought” or “sect.” The sense of “religious opinion opposed to official church doctrine” evolved in the early Middle Ages.

  4. heresy is not an objective word- it does not mean a thing or a concept or a word It is a convenient creation in the sense: something that ought not to be heard. So it is addressed to the believers telling them to beware. do not listen to this “heretic”

  5. @Brad K. — I always used to think “Old Time Rock and Roll” went that way as well, but it turns out it’s actually “call me *a relic*, call me what you will”.

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