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Heresy, Faith and Belief

In this second post about 'Heresy, a history of defending the truth' by Alister McGrath we continue to explore heresy.  Previously we saw that heresy is a form of belief that is ultimately found to be inadequate.  But what is it's relationship to faith and belief?  McGrath suggests:

This brief foray into Christian terminology allows us to make an important distinction between faith (which is generally understood relationally) and belief (which is generally understood cognitively or conceptually).  Faith primarily describes a relationship with God that is characterized by trust, commitment, and love.   To have faith in God is to place one's trust in God, believing him to be worthy of such trust.  Beliefs represent an attempt to put into words the substance of that faith recognizing that words are often not up to the task of representing what they describe, yet recognizing also the need to try to entrust to words what they ultimately could not contain. Words , after all, are of cirticial importance in communication argument and reflection.  It is simply unthinkable for Christians not to try to express in words what they believe.  Yet these creedal formulations are, in a sense, secondary to the primary act of trust and commitment. (page 22)

1 Corinthians 15:3-5 says:
For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve.

Mcgrath says:

Paul here weaves together historical narrative and theological interpretation in a manner that became characteristic of early Christian creeds.  The historical narrative of Jesus of Nazareth is reaffirmed but it is interpreted in a particular way.  For example Jesus did not just "die", which is a purely historical statment; he "died for our sins" which is an interpretation of the significance of the historical event of the death of Jesus of Nazareth.  History is thus not denied or displaced, it is interpreted, being seen in a particular way. (page 22)

Gradually over the first few centuries of the Christian church, various controversies arose which forced increasing precision of this theological interpretation, and the definition and formulation of belief.   As a result:

Views that were once regarded as acceptable began to fall out of favor as the rigorous process of examination accompanying the controversies of the age began to expose their vulnerabilities and deficiencies.  Ways of expressing certain doctrines that earlier generations regarded as robust began to appear inadequate under relentless examination.  It was not necessarily that they were wrong; rather, they were discovered not to be good enough. (page 24)

David Wanstall, 31/08/2011