belief or theory that is strongly at variance with established beliefs or customs

Heresy is any provocative belief or theory that is strongly at variance with established beliefs or customs.


  • And so we get an idea of the real fundamental meaning of the words Catholic and heretic. A heretic is one who has his own opinion. What does having an opinion mean? It means following one's own ideas, one's own particular notions. Whereas the Catholic, on the other hand, is what the name signifies, that is to say one who, not relying on his own private judgement, puts his trust in the Church, and defers to her teaching.
    • Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet, Premier instruction pastorale sur les promesses de l'Église (1700) Ed. Lachat. vol. XVII, p. 112, as quoted by Paul Hazard, La Crise de la conscience européenne (1935) in translation, The Crisis of the European Mind, 1680-1715 (1953) Tr. J. Lewis May.
  • In the Code of Canon Law the term heretic means a baptized person who, while retaining the name of Christian, stubbornly denies or calls in doubt any truth which is to be accepted on Divine and Catholic Faith. ...a similar excommunication is incurred by those who publish books written by heretics upholding and commending heresy, and by all who defend or knowingly and without due permission read or keep these or any other books prohibited by name by letters Apostolic.
  • The word "heresy" not only means no longer being wrong; it practically means being clear-headed and courageous. The word "orthodoxy" not only no longer means being right; it practically means being wrong. All this can mean one thing, and one thing only. It means that people care less for whether they are philosophically right.
  • If heretics no longer horrify us today, as they once did our forefathers, is it certain that it is because there is more charity in our hearts? Or would it not too often be, perhaps, without our daring to say so, because the bone of contention, that is to say, the very substance of our faith, no longer interests us? Men of too familiar and too passive a faith, perhaps for us dogmas are no longer the Mystery on which we live, the Mystery which is to be accomplished in us. Consequently then, heresy no longer shocks us; at least, it no longer convulses us like something trying to tear the soul of our souls away from us.... And that is why we have no trouble in being kind to heretics, and no repugnance in rubbing shoulders with them.
    In reality, bias against ‘heretics’ is felt today just as it used to be. Many give way to it as much as their forefathers used to do. Only, they have turned it against political adversaries. Those are the only ones with whom they refuse to mix. Sectarianism has only changed its object and taken other forms, because the vital interest has shifted. Should we dare to say that this shifting is progress?
    • Henri de Lubac, Paradoxes of Faith (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1987), pp. 226-227
  • Reason quite properly rejects contradiction, but rationalism abhors mystery, which every heresy attempts in its own way to resolve.
  • Someone who believes in all the stories of the Baal Shem Tov and the other mystics and holy men is a fool; someone who doesn't believe them is a heretic.
    • Hasidic Jewish proverb, as quoted by Chris Sandoval, Can Christians Prove the Resurrection?: A Reply to the Apologists (2010) p. 53.
  • It is not necessary to seek truth among others which it is easy to obtain from the Church.
    • Irenaeus, Against Heresies, Book 3, Chapter 4, Readings in World Christian History (2013), p. 61
  • A man that is a heretic, after the first and second admonition, reject.
  • Anyone who seeks for the true causes of miracles, and strives to understand natural phenomena as an intelligent being, and not to gaze at them like a fool, is set down and denounced as an impious heretic by those, whom the masses adore as the interpreters of nature and the gods. Such persons know that, with the removal of ignorance, the wonder which forms their only available means for proving and preserving their authority would vanish also.
  • In English-speaking countries, the connection between heresy and homosexuality is expressed through the use of a single word to denote both concepts: buggery. ... Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary (Third Edition) defines “buggery” as “heresy, sodomy.”
    • Thomas Szasz, The Manufacture of Madness: A Comparative Study of the Inquisition and the Mental Health Movement (1997), p. 165
  • Nay, it has come to this, that Truth meets no where with stronger opposition, than from many of those that raise the loudest cry about it, and would be taken for no less than the only dispensers of the favors and oracles of Heaven. If any has the firmness to touch the minutest thing that brings them Gain or Credit, he's presently pursued with the hue and cry of Heresy.
  • In corporation religions as in others, the heretic must be cast out not because of the probability that he is wrong but because of the possibility that he is right.

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