Could That Be Heresy?

Respond in Love

We all come to small group with different backgrounds. Some of us come from conservative churches, others from the Catholic tradition, and others with no church history at all. How do we as small group leaders encourage dialogue, but also protect our groups from heresy? Kyle Worley shares with small group leaders what heresy is and how to lovingly respond to group members who may make heretical or biblically inaccurate statements. Kyle Worley is the Institute Minister at The Village Church in the Dallas area and the author of Pitfalls: Along the Path to Young and Reformed. 

Describe the faith backgrounds of members in your group. Do they come from different denominations and traditions? Do you have both new and mature believers in your group? How do these differences influence group discussion?
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Kyle defined heresy as, “Any belief or idea that would distort a core doctrine of the Christian faith…like if someone where to claim Jesus was fully God, but not fully man.” He said we can discern heretical statements by asking:

  • Does it hold up against the full revelation of Scripture?
  • Does it contradict anything in my church’s statement of faith? 

Have you ever had anyone in your group make what you thought was a heretical statement? What was said? How did the group respond? What did you do?
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What is an example of a core doctrine or essential truth of the Christian faith? What is an example of a doctrine over which Christians can disagree and still remain faithful? Why is it important to distinguish between the two?
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Kyle shared some helpful and loving ways to correct and respond to group members who may make heretical statements: 

  1. Avoid immediate correction. Instead, ask the group if they have insight to see if they might respond gently and naturally.
  2. Address that member individually later. You can do this lovingly by: 
    • Thanking the person for engaging in discussion
    • Asking the person how he or she came to that conclusion
    • Pointing the person to biblical truth

Using this as your guide, what would you say and what verses would you reference to a group member who claimed Jesus was not equally human and divine. What would you do if the member did not back down from his or her position? Why?
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Identifying heretical statements requires an understanding of core doctrine and Scripture. How could you grow in this?
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It may be hard to tell if something said in your group is heretical or a different interpretation of Scripture. Reach out to pastors or other small group leaders for guidance and lift up the Word as the only rule of faith and obedience.