When a person (in many religions, but I’m now speaking of Christianity) holds a dissenting view on any given theology or system of belief, that individual is bound to take some heat for it. This is especially true if one has alternative opinions regarding main “pillars” in Christian orthodoxy (e.g. eternal condemnation, election, soteriology, christology, trinitarianism, epistemology and ecclesiology). I have taken my share of flack for heterodox positions on these issues.
What amazes me is that those who have made no effort to see another perspective, studied it out on their own or even attempted a humane discourse on any given “heresy” will charge someone else on grounds from which they have no business doing so. There are some who have strong convictions and although they have never investigated any view but their own will gladly condemn someone else as a heretic on the grounds that it does not agree with what they envision or been taught as “truth”. It is no matter to them that someone may have invested a substantial portion of their life and livelihood seeking answers. They and their denomination, church and Pastor are right and it does not make any difference if scripture, context and fact speak against it.
Now on the logical flip side, I am not saying that “he who studies longest wins”, there is more to consider than that. In “Hell a Final Word”, Edward Fudge states, “I often thought when growing up, and even now still do, that the primary difference between religious teachers is not the views they hold but whether they genuinely desire to understand Scripture in order to teach and to be shaped by it, or if they simply use Scripture as a means to advance their own career and personal interests…Truth does not depend on who believes it or how many people accept it. We all say that, but we sometimes forget to practice it. The only question that counts, the only one worthy of consideration, should be, ‘What does the Bible say?’ This has nothing to do with Roman Catholics or Seventh-day Adventists or Herbert W. Armstrong” p. 54-55.
These people who are fully convinced in their own minds and feel the need to straighten the world out around their specially formed anvil of orthodoxy, I call the “theology police”. In the same book, Mr. Fudge also tells portions of his journey in this area, stories that have resounded all too familiar. Part of his story included reference to a former Professor of his. A group of his (Mr. Fudge’s) peers who “denounced Mr. Fudge as hell-bound” for his radically heretical views on grace and the “one-ness of believers in Christ” also “aimed their guns” at his old Professor. With everything I have seen and experienced, I can identify very strongly with this next statement (I literally laughed out loud and reread it a few times):“they accused [Mr. Fudge’s Professor] for some supposed error, he would not dignify the attack with a reply, explaining that he didn't mind being swallowed by a whale for his beliefs, but he refused to be nibbled to death by minnows.”
I bring this up because anyone who desperately wants truth over tradition or in spite of the consequences will encounter resistance; people will take shots at you hoping to stop you dead in your tracks. It isn't that accusations should not be thoughtfully and prayerfully considered, but at some point you will have to strap on your armor and let the flying lead bounce off, because most times it will come in the form of personal attack. The reason for this is what I have already stated, most of the attacks do not come from “scholars” or those who have objectively studied things out for themselves, but rather from “hounds” who feel it their duty to track down deserters of what they envision as the “pure faith”. Personal attack is all they can do. They have little or nothing other than traditional rhetoric, dogma and worn out argumentation in their arsenal.
If you have encountered this opposition, be strong. Stand for what you know is right, but keep your mind open while remaining teachable and humble. Do not let the “nibbles of minnows” discourage or drag you down. I suggest that there would be more with which to be concerned if you encounter no resistance.