HONESTY is as important in theology as in trade and commerce, in a religious denomination as in a political party. Denominational honesty consists, first, in a clear unambiguous statement by a Church of its doctrinal belief; and, second, in an unequivocal and sincere adoption of it by its members. Both are requisite. If a particular denomination makes a loose statement of its belief which is capable of being construed in more than one sense, it is so far dishonest. If the creed of the denomination is well-drawn and plain, but the membership subscribe to it with mental reservation and insincerity, the denomination is dishonest. Honesty and sincerity are founded in clear conviction, and clear conviction is founded in the knowledge and acknowledgment of the truth. Heresy is a sin, and is classed by St. Paul among the “works of the flesh,” along with “adultery, idolatry, murder, envy, and hatred,” which exclude from the kingdom of God (Gal. 5:19–21). But heresy is not so great a sin as dishonesty. There may be honest heresy, but not honest dishonesty. A heretic who acknowledges that he is such, is a better man than he who pretends to be orthodox while subscribing to a creed which he dislikes, and which he saps under pretence of improving it and adapting it to the times. The honest heretic leaves the Church with which he no longer agrees; but the insincere subscriber remains within it in order to carry out his plan of demoralization.
Shedd, W. G. T. (1893). Calvinism: pure and mixed: a defence of the Westminster standards (p. 158). New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons
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