Meaning of heresy


A heresy is a belief that doesn’t agree with the official tenets of a particular religion; heresy is the maintaining of such contrary beliefs.

Heresy can be used figuratively: to disagree with the school committee’s decisions is considered pure heresy by the faculty. You’ll often come across this word in a religious context — the Latin root haeresis, “school of thought or sect,” was used by Christian writers to mean “unorthodox sect or belief.” This comes from the Greek hairesis, “a taking or choosing,” from hairein, “to choose.” A person who chooses to believe in heresies is called a heretic.

Definitions of heresy
  1. noun

    a belief that rejects the orthodox tenets of a religion



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    heretical doctrine taught by Arius that asserted the radical primacy of the Father over the Son

    the Christian heresy of the 2nd and 3rd centuries that rejected the Old Testament and denied the incarnation of God in Jesus as a human

    a Christian heresy of the 5th and 6th centuries that challenged the orthodox definition of the two natures (human and divine) in Jesus and instead believed there was a single divine nature

    the theological doctrine that Christ had only one will even though he had two natures (human and divine); condemned as heretical in the Third Council of Constantinople

    the theological doctrine (named after Nestorius) that Christ is both the son of God and the man Jesus (which is opposed to Roman Catholic doctrine that Christ is fully God)

    the theological doctrine put forward by Pelagius which denied original sin and affirmed the ability of humans to be righteous; condemned as heresy by the Council of Ephesus in 431

    the heretical doctrine (associated with the Gnostics) that Jesus had no human body and his sufferings and death on the cross were apparent rather than real

    a religious orientation advocating gnosis as the way to release a person’s spiritual element; considered heresy by Christian churches

    (Christianity) the heretical belief that the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit are three separate gods
    Albigensianism, Catharism

    a Christian movement considered to be a medieval descendant of Manichaeism in southern France in the 12th and 13th centuries; characterized by dualism (asserted the coexistence of two mutually opposed principles, one good and one evil); was exterminated for heresy during the Inquisition

    a heretical Zoroastrian doctrine holding that Zurvan was the ultimate source of the universe and that both Ahura Mazda and Ahriman were Zurvan’s offspring
    Mandaeanism, Mandeanism

    a Gnostic religion originating the 2nd and 3rd centuries that believes John the Baptist was the Messiah and that incorporates Jewish and Christian elements into a framework of dualistic beliefs
    type of:

    cognitive content, content, mental object

    the sum or range of what has been perceived, discovered, or learned

  2. noun

    any opinions or doctrines at variance with the official or orthodox position


    heterodoxy, unorthodoxy

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    a belief or orientation agreeing with conventional standards


    the orientation of an iconoclast
    nonconformance, nonconformism, nonconformity

    a lack of orthodoxy in thoughts or beliefs
    type of:


    an integrated set of attitudes and beliefs

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