Heresy Hunters

How the good guys pushed me away

Jeremy Zerby
4 min readMar 12, 2023
Photo by Muhammad-taha Ibrahim on Pexels.

The more I have written about the specifics of my faith journey and what led me to leave for a while, the more and more I uncover. I keep finding little things, and big things, that contributed to where I am today. Things that, at the time, I was unaware were causing harm.

I was 18 years old, and I was finally allowed to vote. I was not much into politics at the time, but I knew enough to know how I was “supposed" to vote as a Christian.

After I voted, I even bragged to others about doing my Christian duty to vote Republican.

Not long after, I began to have some doubts that I had done the right thing. But it had more to do with reasons than it did the act of voting for a second four years of George Bush.

I was beginning to feel rather ungrounded in a lot of ways and about a lot of things. As I was beginning college and being exposed to Christians who actually voted differently than me, I was forced to confront my own beliefs. And since I was getting real deep into those message boards I have mentioned previously, I went there seeking answers.

I was looking for an apologetics that would give me the weapons necessary to prove all these liberals around me that I was right and they were wrong. And this, I believed at the time, was how you knew you were growing in your faith. The more ways you could win in a debate against those who thought differently than you, the better Christian you were.

And to win, you had to uncover the heresy in their positions.

To prove people wrong was infinitely more important than proving yourself right. It was better to be known by what you were against than by what you were in favor of.

To be a good Christian was to put on the “full armor of God", and that meant being ready to fight heresy at every turn. Because if someone thought differently than you about anything, they were a heretic.

The problem came when I started reading the source materials for heresy and actually having conversations with those who I initially thought of as heretics.

I was actually taught by pastors and youth pastors growing up that it was important to always refer to the original texts of things when interpreting them. Whether that be the Constitution of the United States or the Bible. The original was where the truest meanings were found. So, when someone pointed out heretical sentences from Brian McLaren’s book A Generous Orthodoxy, for example, I purchased a copy of the book and read it from cover to cover to dig out the heresy and be ready to defend my faith against those who adhered to his false Christianity.

The problem is, the more I read the more I found that he was not saying what I was being told he was saying. In a lot of cases, the sentence I was told was heresy was actually ripped from context and that what he was saying was actually pretty solidly in line with what the Bible was teaching on the subject.

It did not take long before I became disillusioned by the whole heresy hunting thing. And I honestly think it played a huge part in why I eventually walked away from organized religion.

Because so much of what I was being taught had nothing to do with what was right to believe but rather what was wrong. To be a Christian was more than just having faith in Jesus. It was about believing a specific set of things about Jesus that might or might not have anything to do with what was actually true about him according to the Bible.

In the midst of all of this, Derek Webb released an album called “Mockingbird". In one of the songs, he sings,

There are two great lies that I’ve heard
The day you eat the fruit of that tree, you will surely die
And that Jesus Christ was a white middle-class Republican
And if you wanna be saved you’ve gotta learn to be like him...

Then it all clicked.

I had spent months defending a lie. And if the Jesus of conservative politics was a lie, what other lies had I amassed ammunition against? How much of what I believed and even taught was false?

My intentions were good but... Well... The road to hell is paved with the best of intentions.

So I walked.

After some time away, it became clear that what is most important for a Christian is not defeating the other guy in a theological debate. What is most important is whether or not you are doing what Jesus would have you do.

At the very end of the book, God gives their final judgement on humankind. The analogy Jesus uses is separating sheep from goats. The whole thing centers around what the people did. It has absolutely nothing with what they believed or how many heretics they vanquished in theological trivia. Rather, it has everything to do with how a person treated those at the bottom of the social ladder.

It is ultimately about what a person does, not about what a person believes about abortion.

Or about what someone believes about anything else for that matter.

Even in the book of Revelation, the emphasis at the end of it all is that it is about what a person does.

Your redemption rests on how you live your life.



Jeremy Zerby

Hermeneutics, religion, pop psychology, self-help, and culture. They are all connected, and I am here to explain how.