I mentioned in a different post the tricky nature of distinguishing between heresy, heterodoxy, bad teaching, etc. Johannes Wollebius (1586-1629) described some careful thinking and distinguishing between the various categories. In chapter 27 on “The False Church” of his Prolegomena, he notes:
1. Not every error makes a heretic.
There may be error against the foundation like that of the Arians and Marcionites, who denied, the one the deity, and the other the humanity, of Christ; or concerning the foundation, as the papists err in teaching transubstantiation, by which the truth of the human nature of Christ is taken away; or error by addition to the foundation, which errors are by Paul called hay, wood, etc. (1 Cor. 3:12).
2. The following makes a heretic: (i) an error against the foundation or concerning the foundation, (ii) conviction, (iii) contumacy.
3. Not every schismatic is a heretic.
A schismatic is one who, although holding to the foundation of the faith, departs from some practice [ritus] of the church, rashly or because of ambition.
The Marks of the Church. Notes on the Notae to Distinguish the Bride of Christ.
Tertullian: “Those are the true churches that adhere to what they have received from the apostles.”
I was recently preparing for a Consistory meeting and we were going to talk about the third mark of the Church, and as I was preparing I started noticing diversity amongst some of our Reformed fathers. Wanting to understand a bit better the exegetical basis for some of the different decisions, I began to catalog various confessional documents and theologians on the matter. I thought others might find it useful to see these findings placed side by side, and so you will find them below in chronological order. No doubt, others ought to be added to this list, and if there is anyone of particular importance that ought to be cataloged, either for their uniqueness or influence, leave a note in the comments and I’ll try to track them down and add them to the list. Continue reading →