following is excerpted from A
Handbook for Heretics. © John W. Sloat, 2001.
order A Handbook for Heretics
are in the middle of a second reformation. The reformation
of the 1600s came about as a result of the church's
involvement in secular politics. Distracted by wealth
and power, it had abandoned its original purpose, to
be a spiritual force in the physical world, to help
establish the Kingdom of God on earth. Those who broke
from the established church wanted to restore its spiritual
dimension and reclaim the right to think for themselves.
As a result, they were labeled heretics.
current reformation is also the result of the church's
involvement in politics. But this time it is religious
politics. Much of the church is so busy defending its
tradition and protecting its power that it has once
again turned its back on its spiritual commission. It
has confused winning members for the institution with
winning souls for the Kingdom. The fact that the church
cannot see the distinction between these two realities,
the institution and the Kingdom, is at the heart of
the problem. Many current and former members want to
be free to think for themselves, to discover what spiritual
truths may lie outside the bounds of the church's tradition.
But those who try to do so are still labeled heretics.
tension within the church is caused by two different
schools of thought.
One is comprised of those who believe that revelation
is an ongoing process, that God is immanent and intimately
involved in the daily life of humankind. These people
believe Jesus literally when he says, "I have much
more to tell you,"
other includes people who believe that the revelation
is complete, that God has spoken the final word, and
that discipleship means adhering to the tradition
and the confessions of faith. But believing that the
truth has been fully revealed means defending that
truth against change, and this results in the conviction
that any further so-called "revelation" is either
misguided or demonic.
modern reformation comes out of a period of explosive
spiritual discovery in which God is showering us with
fresh data about the reality, structure and nearness
of the spiritual world. Several years ago, a friend
and I launched a website dealing with some of these
current spiritual phenomena. We hoped to provide a bridge
between the two schools of thought, the traditionalists
and the millions of people who have had non-traditional
spiritual experiences. But much of this new information
is rejected by the church because it conflicts with
its time-honored theology.
rejection was demonstrated when my denomination took
one look at our website, labeled it heresy, and forced
me out of the ministry in which I had served for forty-three
church needs to confront the reasons why it is losing
members, why so many people find it less and less relevant,
and why there is such a wealth of extraordinary spiritual
experiences being reported by ordinary people. These
people, far from being heretics, have discovered that
Jesus meant it literally when he said that he had much
more to tell us. This book is written to let them know
they are not alone, to offer support for their point
of view, and to provide material which they can use
in study groups.
Handbook For Heretics describes the new reformation
which is taking place in our day and shows that those
whom the church often labels as heretics are actually
the leading edge of a new spiritual age. The church
must decide whether it will continue to focus on the
past, ignoring what God is doing today, or whether it
will open itself to the continuing revelation and become
part of this new dispensation.