12 Common Heresies in the Church today

In no particular order, and not an exhaustive list:

1. limited inerrancy – the heretical claim that the Bible is only inerrant on matters of faith and morals, or on matters pertaining to salvation.

Correct doctrine: total inspiration and total inerrancy | seven words on inerrancy

2. heresies on the Eucharist – there are several different common heresies on this Sacrament:
* the claim that Jesus is not physically present or not locally present in the Eucharist
* the claim that the molecules of bread and wine do not change at the consecration
* Jimmy Akin’s heresy claiming that the substances of bread and wine are annihilated: “cease to exist”, “return to nothing”, “ad nihilo … annihiliate”.
* the claim that the substances of bread and wine change into the whole human nature of Christ, or the whole person of Christ (both natures)

Correct doctrine: See these posts. The substance of bread changes into the substance of Christ’s body only; then the rest of his human nature becomes present by concomitancy, and the Divine Nature becomes present by the hypostatic union. Christ is physically present and locally present in the Eucharist, since the accidents of bread and wine are possessed by the substance of Christ’s body and blood. The molecules of bread and wine change in their substance, not in their accidents.

3. contraception – the heretical claim that contraception or abortifacient contraception becomes moral when done for a medical purpose or other good intention, or in dire circumstances.

Correct doctrine: See these posts. Contraception, abortifacient contraception, and abortion are each intrinsically evil and always gravely immoral.

4. abortion – the heretical claim that every abortion done for the purpose of saving the life of the mother is moral (or indirect).

Correct doctrine: direct abortion is intrinsically evil and always gravely immoral. Some abortions for the purpose of saving the life of the mother are direct and therefore always gravely immoral.

5. intrinsically evil acts – the heretical claim that an intrinsically evil act can be justified by a good intention or purpose, or by dire circumstances, or by other knowingly chosen acts.

Correct doctrine: intrinsically evil acts are always immoral, regardless of intention or circumstances.

6. marital sex – the heretical and perverse claim that Catholic spouses may engage in all manner of unnatural sexual acts, as long as they include an act of natural marital relations at some point. The typical form that this heresy takes is the claim that all sexual acts are permissible as long as the husband only climaxes within natural relations, and that the wife can climax at any time, even as a result of unnatural sexual acts.

Correct doctrine: To be moral, each and every sexual act must be marital, unitive, and procreative. All unnatural sexual acts are intrinsically evil and always gravely immoral, regardless of whether the act includes climax, and regardless of whether the act is accompanied by a moral act of natural marital relations.

7. Feeneyism and mitigated Feeneyism – Feeneyism is the heretical claim that only persons baptized with water can be saved. Mitigated Feeneyism is the heretical claim that baptism by desire and by blood is very limited, and might occur rarely, if at all.

Correct doctrine: “The universality of salvation means that it is granted not only to those who explicitly believe in Christ and have entered the Church. Since salvation is offered to all, it must be made concretely available to all.” [Pope Saint John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio, 10]. Every human person is offered salvation, in a way that is concretely available in the circumstances of their lives, whether it is baptism by water, by desire (implicitly or explicitly), or blood.

8. Restorationism, also called apocatastasis or universalism – the heretical claim that all human persons will be saved; the heretical claim that “perhaps” all human persons will be saved or that we may “reasonably hope” that all human persons will be saved. This heresy was held by Hans Urs von Balthasar, and is currently promoted by Bishop Robert Barron and Mark Shea, among others.

Correct doctrine: The Magisterium has repeatedly infallibly taught that not all human persons are saved, that not all human persons receive the salvific benefit of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, that the General Resurrection includes the resurrection of reprobate human souls in Hell, and similar related teachings. Therefore, the Church has definitively taught that not all human persons will be saved.

9. Post-mortem second chance for salvation – the heretical claim that a person who dies unrepentant from actual mortal sin might receive an opportunity after death to repent and be saved.

Correct doctrine: The Magisterium infallibly teaches that every human person who dies unrepentant from actual mortal sin will be condemned to Hell forever. This teaching is found in Benedictus Deus (Pope Benedict 12th) and the Councils of Florence and Lyons II.

10. Only Christians are children of God – the heretical claim promoted by Mark Shea and Rachel Lu that only persons who receive the formal Sacrament of Baptism (with water) are children of God.

Correct doctrine: All human persons who are in the state of grace are children of God. The Council of Trent infallibly taught that not only persons who receive a baptism of water, but also those who receive a baptism of desire, are children of God.

11. an heretical Pope – the heretical claim that a valid Pope can fall into heresy or teach heresy, or that a valid Pope can become invalid. This claim is often accompanied by the false claim that some past Popes were heretics, committed heresy, or taught heresy.

Correct doctrine: Just as Saint and Doctor of the Church Robert Bellarmine taught, it is heresy to claim that a Pope can teach heresy when he is defining a doctrine with an Ecumenical Council, and proximate to heresy to claim that he can fall into heresy or teach heresy at some other time.

12. predestination – the heretical claim that God, for mysterious reasons we cannot know, passes over or omits some persons from predestination to Heaven, and so they end up in Hell; in other words, their passive omission from predestination to Heaven implies they will be condemned to Hell.

Correct doctrine: “In predestination, however, (we believe) that God has determined only those things which He Himself either in His gratuitous mercy or in His just judgment would do…. in regard to evil men, however, we believe that God foreknew their malice, because it is from them, but that He did not predestine it, because it is not from Him. (We believe) that God, who sees all things, foreknew and predestined that their evil deserved the punishment which followed, because He is just….” [Denzinger 322; Council of Valence III]

“He knew [they] would perish, but He did not predestine that they would perish, because He is just; however, He predestined eternal punishment for them. And on account of this we speak of only one predestination of God, which pertains either to the gift of grace or to the retribution of justice.” [Denzinger 316; Council of Quiersy]

“Omnipotent God wishes all men without exception to be saved [1 Tim. 2:4 ] although not all will be saved. However, that certain ones are saved, is the gift of the One who saves; that certain ones perish, however, is the deserved punishment of those who perish.”
[Denzinger 318; Council of Quiersy]

The reasons, that some are saved and others are not saved, are known and understood through the teachings of the Church. The mercy of God offers salvation to all human persons. Before the fact of our sinfulness, God wills all to be saved. However, He gifts us with free will and He respects that gift. Those human persons who freely choose to commit actual mortal sin and who do not repent before death are justly punished. God foreknows their unrepentant grave sin, and so He predestines them to just punishment. But their condemnation to Hell is not due to a decision or omission by God, except to punish them justly because of their own free decisions.

Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and translator of the Catholic Public Domain Version of the Bible.

Please take a look at this list of my books and booklets, and see if any topic interests you.

Gallery | This entry was posted in heresies. Bookmark the permalink.