In a short piece at First Things, Ryan Anderson makes a point that every Christian needs to hear. The defining heresy of our day is anthropological in nature. It’s about who God created us to be as male and female in His image. So many of our social and spiritual pathologies are downstream from this key theological point. He writes:
Debates about the nature of God, of salvation, and of the Church never disappear, of course. But today, the most pressing heresies—the newest challenges for the Church’s teaching and mission—center on the nature of man. The tribulations that marked the twentieth century and continue into the twenty-first—totalitarianism, genocide, abortion, and the sexual ideology that has battered the family and redefined marriage—have sprung from a faulty humanism. I don’t mean to equate each of these human tragedies with the others, but they all spring from faulty anthropology, a misunderstanding of the nature of man…
If we are seeing in our own time challenges to the truths that we are created male and female, and that male and female are created for each other in marriage, it is because we have lost sight of the true nature of man. We must respond to false humanisms with a true humanism committed to the unique and irreplaceable value of each person.
If Ryan is correct (and he is), then that has implications for how we understand our calling as Christians in our time. We must withstand the heresy of our own day—that our essence is self-determined and that our identity can be boiled down to the sum total of fallen sexual desires. That fictional narrative surrounds us and presses us on all sides. It is the air we breathe. Still we are called to assert the faith in the face of it—to say in our own time what the Holy Spirit has said for all time in Scripture.
To fail that calling—even when the headwinds of culture are blowing hard against us—is a failure of courage and love: (1) courage that God has spoken and that standing for His truth is worth it even when the going gets tough, and (2) love that seeks the good of our neighbor, even when our neighbor disagrees with us.
Heresy has always been a challenge to the church, but it has also always been God’s providential occasion for the triumph of the orthodox. That is the opportunity that is before us now if we have the courage and love to seize it.