What is heresy according to the Bible?

Author: BibleAsk Team

Heresy – Definition

Heresy is defined as an opinion or a doctrine at variance with established religious beliefs, especially dissension from or denial of Roman Catholic dogma by a professed believer or baptized church member. A heretic is a proponent of heresy. Heresy is different from apostasy, which is the clear giving up of one’s religion or principles and from blasphemy, which is an unholy declaration or action against God.


In the Catholic Church, the Codex Justinianus (1:5:12) defines “everyone who is not devoted to the Catholic Church and to our Orthodox holy Faith” a heretic. A person that is guilty of heresy is considered to be spiritually disconnected from the Church, even before excommunication. Heresy was a major justification for the Inquisition (Inquiry on Heretical Perversity) and for the European wars of religion (16th, 17th and early 18th centuries ) associated with the Protestant Reformation.

Historians estimate that during the inquisition, Middle Ages, and Early Reformation Era, more than 50,000,000 martyrs perished for their faith at the decree of the Papacy (Halley’s Bible Handbook, 1965 edition, page 726). The apostle John saw in vision the beast power “drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus” (Revelation 17:6).

And the prophet Daniel likewise predicted that the beast power will “persecute the saints of the Most High” (Daniel 7:25). The papacy acknowledges that it has persecuted the saints and defends it actions as a legitimate exercise of power presumably granted her by Christ. The following is from The Catholic Encyclopedia:

“In the Bull ‘Ad exstirpanda’ (1252) Innocent IV says: ‘When those adjudged guilty of heresy have been given up to the civil power by the bishop or his representative, or the Inquisition, the podestà or chief magistrate of the city shall take them at once, and shall, within five days at the most, execute the laws made against them.’ … Nor could any doubt remain as to what civil regulations were meant, for the passages which ordered the burning of impenitent heretics were inserted in the papal decretals from the imperial constitutions ‘Commissis nobis’ and ‘Inconsutibilem tunicam.’ The aforesaid Bull ‘Ad exstirpanda’ remained thenceforth a fundamental document of the Inquisition, renewed or re-enforced by several popes, Alexander IV (1254–61), Clement IV (1265–68), Nicholas IV (1288–92), Boniface VIII (1294–1303), and others. The civil authorities, therefore, were enjoined by the popes, under pain of excommunication to execute the legal sentences that condemned impenitent heretics to the stake.”

The era of the Catholic Church’s absolute authority lasted 1260 years (Daniel 7:25; 12:7; Revelation 11:2, 3; 12:6, 14; 13:5). It began in A. D. 538 until A. D. 1798 when Napoleon’s general, Berthier, took the pope captive with the goal of destroying both Pope Pius VI and the political power of the papacy. Thus, the era of the execution of heretics by the Catholic Church came to an end then.

Heresy According to the Bible

God defines heresy as that which goes against His inspired Word. “To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isaiah 8:20). Whatever men may teach that is not in harmony with that Word is considered heresy (Isaiah 50:10, 11).

The Catholic Church’s Doctrines are not the standard of right and wrong, God’s Word is. The Catholic Church teaches many doctrines that are not supported by the Bible. For more, check: https://bibleask.org/what-are-some-of-unbiblical-doctrines-of-the-catholic-church/

The apostle Peter warned the believers regarding many heresies propagated by false teachers (2 Peter 2: 1). Likewise, the apostle Paul warned of heresies in the early church (1 Corinthians 11:19; 1 Timothy 1:3-6; 2 Timothy 1:13-14). And the apostle John urged Christians to be critical rather than credulous, and not to accept every spiritual activity as coming from God (1 John 4:1-6).

The Scriptures teach that a “heretick” should be admonished properly (Titus 3:10 KJV). But if he doesn’t change his ways, he should be disfellowshipped according to Jesus’ instruction in Matthew 18:15-17. The unifying factor to the members in the body of Christ should be the word of God (John 17:17,22,23).

In His service,
BibleAsk Team


The contents of this article and website are not intended to be against any individual. There are many priests and faithful believers in Roman Catholicism who serve God to the best of their knowledge and are seen by God as His children. The information contained herein is directed only towards the Roman Catholic religio-political system which has reigned in varying degrees of power for nearly two millennia. This system has established an increasing number of doctrines and statements that directly go against the Bible.

It is our purpose to lay the clear Word of God before you, the truth-seeking reader, to decide for yourself what is truth and what is error. If you find anything here contrary to the Bible, do not accept it. But if you desire to seek for Truth as for hidden treasure, and find herein something of that quality and feel that the Holy Spirit is revealing Truth to you, please make all haste to accept it.

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