As a young cop, I had to learn about the judicious use of firearms. In my training, there was a term called, “Pray and Spray.” Pray and Spray means that when a threat appears that could cause death or great bodily harm, the undisciplined person will start praying and pulling the trigger as fast as they can spraying bullets in hopes of hitting their target and ending the threat. The problem with this tactic is you might kill or injure innocent bystanders who are not a threat because you haven’t taken precise aim. Our combat instructors in the police academy told us we were responsible for every round that left the barrel of our weapon. The same is true in the world of social media and casual conversation. Every word we speak will find a target, intended and unintended targets alike.
If you write, preach or open your mouth about anything in the public eye, at some point, you will end up on someone’s heretic list. These aren’t kind lists. They are created by people whose audience is made possible only because they own a computer, have Internet access and an ax to grind. These unrighteous critics have no relationship with those whom they feel called to criticize and categorize. I am on a few of these lists that warn people of a perceived heresy because what I said or wrote did not line up with their opinion. Some of the names on these lists are people like Billy Graham, Jack Hayford, Rick Warren and a host of other great people of God. Some of these heresy hunting lists are really long, long enough to include my name and maybe yours.
Heresy is defined by most dictionaries as a departure from orthodox belief. Martin Luther was viewed as a heretic in the Protestant Reformation that took place 500 years ago. What Luther was actually doing was trying to return the Church to an orthodox belief that was abandoned centuries before when the hierarchy of religion took the reins of faith away from the people. Those in power called him a heretic because their definition of orthodoxy was limited to their self-serving interpretation of Scripture and their narrow understanding of God’s Kingdom. Their form of orthodoxy was not God’s original design or intent. Luther’s challenge to return to original orthodoxy was labeled a heresy. A lot of good people died unnecessary deaths when the hounds of heresy were released to pursue their prey.
In Titus 3:10 a divisive person is described as someone who divided believers against each other. The term “divisive person” was used in the Early Church to describe a type of heretic. Paul told Titus to warn that kind of person twice and after that tell them to leave the circle of fellowship. Their continued heretical presence in the Church would allow the fangs of a wolfing presence to sink into innocent sheep and tear them apart.
Perhaps the division we cause when we adopt a pray and spray attitude is a greater heresy that a misguided point of theology. It can be more dangerous because it divides the oneness of the Church. Be careful when you pull the trigger of your personal opinion. You can cause more damage than you realize if you simply spray your opinion about other people and groups. You can end up killing and injuring innocent people that are not your enemy they just have a different way of seeing God and His Kingdom.