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heresy, in religion, especially in Christianity, beliefs or views held by a member of a church that contradict its orthodoxy, or core doctrines. It is distinguished from apostasy, which is a complete abandonment of faith that makes the apostate a deserter, or former member. Heresy is also distinguished from schism, which is a splitting of or from the church brought about by disputes over hierarchy or discipline, rather than over matters of doctrine. The heretic considers himself or herself not only a church member but, in a doctrinal controversy, the true believer; indeed, some persons originally labeled heretical were rehabilitated after once abhorred views become accepted.

The battle for doctrinal control of Christianity began with the declarations of St. Paul in the New Testament. In the religion's first three centuries, numerous sects, many arising from Gnosticism, were in conflict. The first Council of Nicaea (A.D. 325), which addressed the challenge of Arianism, was among convocations at which a Christian orthodoxy was established.

Excommunication was the usual method of dealing with heretical individuals or small groups. The medieval church undertook military action (as against the Albigenses, in 1208) and extensive legal and punitive campaigns (such as the Inquisition) in striving to suppress large-scale heresy. The Protestant Reformation created new churches that at first campaigned against heresy from their own doctrinal bases; over time, however, the Roman Catholic church has remained the only Christian body that has continued with any frequency, on the basis of canon law, to prosecute heretics.

See also blasphemy.

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See also Sacrilege.
Aholah and Aholibah
symbolize Samaria’s and Jerusalem’s abandonment to idols. [O.T.: Ezekiel 23:4]
heretical sect; advocated Manichaean dualism. [Fr. Hist.: NCE, 53]
4th-century heretical sect; denied Christ’s divinity. [Christian Hist.: Brewer Note-Book, 43]
heretical group; always break eggs unlawfully at large end. [Br. Lit.: Gulliver’s Travels]
heretical Christian sect in 12th and 13th centuries; professed a neo-Manichaean dualism. [Christian Hist.: EB, II: 639]
Christian group in North Africa who broke with Catholicism (312). [Christian Hist.: EB, III: 618]
2nd- and 3rd-century Christian ascetic sect that retained a Jewish emphasis. [Christian Hist.: EB, III: 768]
doctrine declaring state is superior to the church in ecclesiastical affairs (1524–1543). [Christian Hist.: EB, III: 937]
Fires of Smithfield
Marian martyrs burnt at stake as heretics. [Br. Hist.: Brewer Dictionary, 1013]
heretical theological movement in Greco-Roman world of 2nd century. [Christian Hist.: EB, IV: 587]
Roman Catholic tribunal engaged in combating and suppressing heresy. [Christian Hist.: NCE, 1352]
unorthodox Roman Catholic movement of the 17th and 18th centuries led by Cornelius Jansen. [Christian Hist.: EB, V: 515]
Julian the Apostate
(331–363) Roman emperor, educated as a Christian but renounced Christianity when he became emperor. [Rom. Hist.: Benét, 533]
in late medieval England, a name given to followers of unorthodox philosopher John Wycliffe. [Christian Hist.: EB, VI: 306]
appellation of any heretic, Jew or non-Jew. [Judaism: Wigoder, 417]
heretical Christian sect who questioned the divine and human nature of Jesus. [Christian Hist.: EB, VI: 1003]
2nd-century heretical Christian movement led by prophet Montanus. [Christian Hist.: EB, VI: 1012]
3rd-century Christian heresy led by Sabellius. [Christian Hist.: EB, VIII: 747]
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
The statement should give confidence and new hope to all apostates in Malaysia.
But it has remained opposed to the practice of takfir, even ousting President Ahmad Hosni Taha in May for calling a prominent critic of Islam an 'apostate'.
What should be driven into the mind of Koulias, and every prospective apostate, is that people (the overwhelming majority at least) do not vote for them because they are enchanted by their charm but for the principles of the party they represent.
However, the regime does not consider Christians from ethnic groups that have always been Christian and do not proselytize to be apostates. It only considers Muslims who seek to change their religion to be apostates.
What enhances this work is a thirty-two page essay, with notes, which includes brief but helpful narratives of the lives of several of these apostates and a detailed analysis of the design, use, and reuse of prints of the Shakers.
Converts and switchers, however, were more likely to have played pretend, and apostates were the most likely to have done so.
He says the terror army is giving a last opportunity to Sunni opponents and apostates. "We give them this last chance, not from a point of weakness but a point of strength.
So at this point in Hassan's talk, I was feeling both glad that he was teaching fellow Muslims to obey Canadian law--but also a bit uncomfortable that perhaps some Canadian Muslims would feel they ought to be stoning adulterers and killing apostates, and it's just the law of the land preventing them from actually doing so.
Nasrallah calls those groups takfiris a term for Muslims who declare other Muslims apostates deserving of death.
1) states: "Church funeral rites are to be denied to the following, unless they gave some signs of repentance before death: Notorious apostates, heretics and schismatics.
Sunni militants often carry out attacks targeting members of Iraq's Shiite majority, whom they consider apostates.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks, but Sunni militants linked to Al Qaeda often target Shiite Muslims, whom they regard as apostates, in simultaneous and mass-casualty bombings.