Posted at Reformation Scotland:
Sometimes it seems like the only heresy today is the idea of heresy itself. In other words a culture of hyper-toleration tones down our language. There is a reluctance to bring absolute truth and falsehood in to sharp definition. Reluctance to point out to individuals where they are going astray is another aspect of this influence. We don’t want to interfere – especially if we think the error won’t endanger their salvation. Perhaps we don’t know how or trust ourselves to do it in the right way. Yet the Bible is full of warnings about straying from the truth. It expects us to be concerned for those who are in error.
Sometimes error may seem to be in a small matter yet on closer consideration it actually endangers the gospel itself. A good example of this is in Galatians 2:14-15. Paul must confront Peter because he is declining to eat with the Gentile believers. To a modern mind this must seem strange. Peter is a godly, respected preacher and this is just a matter of eating practices. Surely it is indifferent? Why would Paul withstand Peter to the face publicly? Paul says it was because Peter was not walking “uprightly according to the truth of the gospel. The word uprightly means “with straight foot”: in other words walking astray. Peter’s practice was affecting truth and damaging the gospel. He was implying that to be saved the Gentiles needed to observe the ceremonial law of Old Testament Israel. This was adding our works to what Christ has done.
Even an apostle can be swept along with others in going seriously astray. This also shows the close connection between what we practice and what we believe. In expounding Galatians 2:14-15, James Fergusson makes some important points about how we are to deal with error. The following is updated extract from his comments.