List of Sub-Christian Heresies

These are sub-christian heresies, that if believed, could have eternal consequences for the believer and would put them outside the bounds of historic, orthodox Christianity.








Kenyonism (Word-Faith) 








Osteenism (Prosperity Gospel)

Open Theism




Rauschenbuschism (Social Gospel)




Vinism (Gay Theology)


Heresies: Vinism (Gay Theology)

Vinism is one of the five heresies (along with Osteenism , Haginism, Rauschenbuschism and Theoerosism) coined by Polemics Report or its sister ministry, Pulpit and Pen. Vinism is so named in the tradition after naming heresies for their founders or most prominent proponents. In this case, Vinism is named after not the founder, but perhaps the most popular teacher of the heresy in the 21st Century, Matthew Vines. Vinism may also be called “Gay Theology” or “Queer Theology.”

Vinism is the theological attempt by practitioners of sodomy (in heart or deed) or those who approve the practice of sodomy to defend the practice through creative use (or misuse) of Scripture. Vinism attempts to defend the practice of sodomy (defined as any sexually unnatural practice, including homosexuality, attempts at gender reassignment, sexual mutilation, incest, bestiality or other sins) through various means, including but not limited to removing gender-exclusive terms from the Scripture, ignoring certain Bible passages, attempting to make Biblical instruction descriptive rather than prescriptive, suggesting that God’s standards of sexual morality have changed, or taking Scriptural passages out of context and abusing them eisegetically.

Because Vinism diminishes God’s standard of righteousness and redefines sin, as well as does violence to passages like 1 Corinthians 6:8-11, the heresy has eternal negative consequences for the adherent.

Heresies: Theoerosism

Theoerosism is one of the five heresies (along with Vinism , Kenyonism, Rauschenbuschism and Osteenism) coined by Polemics Report or its sister ministry, Pulpit and Pen. Theoerosism is named from two words in Greek, θεός and ἔρως, meaning God and love. ἔρως, however, is often used to describe an erotic type of love, and so Theoerosism is mean to mean “erotic love for God.”

Although Theoerosism is not new in terms of world religion, and was common place among the Greeks and other pagan traditions, Theoerosism is relatively new among purported Christians. Theoerosists view or speak of God in terms of sensuality or eroticism, and is contained historically to the 20th and 21st Century.

Theoerosism is popularized in much of sub-Christian media, in worship songs that speak of God romantically or in literature that discusses God with erotic styling.

Modern adherents of Theoerosism include most prominently Ann Voskamp, whose book One Thousand Gifts speaks repeatedly of God in a sensual fashion, including repeatedly using the term (or variant of the term) “make love to God.” Books like Making Love to God by Tina Louise Spalding and Making Love with God by Aubrey Craft Davis (and many other less-sensationally named books) explore and promote the heresy of Theoerosism.

Heresies: Mysticism

Although there are many varieties of mysticism, the sub-christian heresy is that mysticism common among purported Christians, also known as Christian Mysticism. Mysticism, as it may reveal itself in any religious tradition, is the attempt or practice of becoming one with a deity through meditation, ecstasy, altered consciousness, or another discipline or practice that manipulate or change one’s state of mind. Mysticism looks eerily the same no matter the diversity in religion where it is prominent. Mystical practices are virtually the same for Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Nativism or Christianity. These include deep meditation, contemplative or centering prayer, obtaining physical positions that enhance mystic experiences, and communing with a supernatural deity outside of the body or outside of consciousness.

Although some claim that the sacraments (or ordinances) of the church are inherently mystical because they promise inexplicable blessings or serve as a inexplicable means of grace, this would not be a correct use of the term. Truly mystical Christianity took root in the Middle Ages as Roman Catholic cultists described the “ecstasy” they would have while contemplating God in prayer. This was very common and grew in popularity among monastic practices in Roman Catholicism, which was directly gleaned from Eastern false religions like Transcendentalism and Buddhism, and that connection is seen strongly in the Eastern Mystic and Monastic influence of Lectio Divina, as practiced and taught by Catholic mystic, Brother Lawrence.

Mystic practices include Meditative, Centering, or Contemplative Prayer, automation, prayer labyrinths, repetitious chanting, trance-inducing music, and prayer mixed with heavy involvement of the arts.

Modern proponents include many in the charismatic movement, and churches like the International House of Prayer (IHOP) in Kansas City, Missouri have popularized it even further. Adherents include Beth Moore, Mike Bickle, and Sarah Young.

Heresies: Open Theism

Open Theism is a heresy that teaches a false representation of God, asserting that God is not knowing of all that will come to pass. Sometimes called “Free Will Theism,” Open Theism is associated often – but not always – with adherents of Pelagianism. Unique for a heresy, Open Theism is relatively new and contained to the 20th and 21st Centuries (although that doesn’t mean aspects of the belief system didn’t exist prior).

Designed to make compatible the notions of God’s Sovereignty and man’s free will, the heresy claims that God’s knowledge is “dynamic” or flexible and changes with eventualities and conditions on Earth. In other words, Open Theists claim that God knows all certainties in future events, but he is not necessarily aware of how the future will unfold until events make such outcomes certain. This accounts, Open Theism argues, for how God acts in accordance to man’s free will. Their argument supposes that if man is truly free, God cannot fully know with certainty how the future will unfold when it depends upon man’s free choice.

Monilism is a variety of Open Theism that is less overt in its undermining of divine Omniscience in the hypothesizing of a “Middle Knowledge” in which God knows all possible outcomes, but doesn’t know which outcome in particular will occur.

Modern adherents of Open Theism include Clark Pinnock and Gregory Boyd, and William Lane Craig is perhaps the best known proponent of the near cousin to Open Theism, Monilism.

Heresies: Kenyonism (Word-Faith)

Kenyonism is one of the five heresies (along with Vinism , Osteenism, Rauschenbuschism and Theoerosism) coined by Polemics Report or its sister ministry, Pulpit and Pen. Kenyonism is so named in the tradition after naming heresies for their founders or most prominent proponents. In this case, Kenyonism is named after the founder, E.W. Kenyon (1867-1948), and is often called Word-Faith or Word of Faith, and is closely associated with a similar but slightly different doctrine, Osteenism.

Kenyonism teaches a spiritually perverted interpretation of Matthew 17:14-20, holding that Christians by faith can attain any of their desires, making faith itself into a force by which things can be attained. Central to Kenyonism is the notion of “positive confession,” that by speaking one’s desires as though they’re already come to pass will actually cause those things to come to pass. Most Kenyonists also hold to “Little God Theology,” which teaches that man is just a smaller, weaker version of God, but essentially deified. Kenneth Hagin instituted this stream of thought into Kenyonism, and it has been taught by the most popular Kenyonists, from Kenneth Copeland to Creflo Dollar to Joyce Meyer.

Aside from those three names (Copeland, Dollar, Meyer), popular adherents today include Joel Osteen, Eddie Long, Fred Prince, Brian Houston, Christine Caine and others. Kenyonism comprises most of the personalities regularly broadcast on TBN, and is gradually attracting up and coming evangelical stars like Steven Furtick.

Heresies: Socinianism

The heresy of Socinianism is named after its founder, Faustus Socinus (1539-1604) and gained popularity among the Polish Brethren and the Unitarian Church of Transylvania. Socinians had a number of heretical beliefs, including rejecting substitionary atonement, adopting and embracing Pelagianism, Arianism, and Open Theism. However, none of those heresies are unique to Socinianism.

Socinianism, as the term is used, refers to a denial of the miraculous in lieu of a dependence upon the scientific or philosophical. Socinianism is a spin on skepticism. Skepticism is a philosophy that typically rejects the miraculous or supernatural in lieu of atheism or agnosticism. Socinianism is skepticism that seeks to retain the notion of professed Christianity; in other words, it is a skeptical Christianity that denies many clear claims of Scripture.

Modern Socinians include Unitarians and Christodelphians, but also include groups like Bio Logos that deny the more supernaturalistic claims of Scripture in subjection to modern scientific theory and have renown modern proponents, like Tim Keller of Redeemer Bible Church.

Heresies: Rauschenbuschism (Social Gospel)

Rauschenbuschism is one of the five heresies coined by Polemics Report or its sister ministry, Pulpit & Pen (along with Vinism , Haginism, Osteensim and Theoerosism). Rauschenbuschism is so named in the tradition of naming heresies for their founders or most prominent proponents. In this case, Rauschenbuschism is named after Walter Rauschenbusch, who wrote “A Theology for the Social Gospel.” Pertinently, the more popular term for Rauschenbusch is, in fact, the Social Gospel. 

Rauschenbuschism teaches that the Gospel’s primary consequence on Earth is not the forgiveness of sins, but the solution to racism, social or economic inequality, poverty, crime, environmental problems or other social ills. The roots of Rauschenbuschism is post-millennial theologically (although not by necessity), but it has come to widespread acceptance in all eschatological views. Rauschenbuschism came to prominence in the 20th Century by men like Walter Rauschenbuschism and Josiah Strong.

In “A Theology for the Social Gospel” (which itself denotes that it is an ideology in pursuit of a theology), Rauschenbusch explained that the goals of social improvement could be reached and enthusiasm for its completion intensified if only a theology could be created that was designed to promote those goals. In his opinion, the “regular Gospel” made clear the sinfulness of individuals, but did not make clear the “sinfulness of institutions.” Rauschenbuschism teaches that institutions that are inherently wicked can be redeemed through the right theological focus, and even be brought to repentance in the same way that individuals can be brought to repentance. Rauschenbuschism can be discerned by common use and misuse of the word “Kingdom,” as taken from Matthew 6:10.

Rauschenbuschism became a highly favored tool of social progressives in the 20th Century, as well as Communists and Marxists propagating their views in the United States, although conservatives also utilized the ideology in prohibition and other social movements.

Modern proponents of Rauschenbuschism include certain segments of Christian Reconstruction, adherents to Black Liberation theology, and Jim Wallis. There is growing concern that Rauschenbuschism is becoming slowly accepted by modern evangelicals like Russell Moore, Thabiti Anyabwile and the organizations, the Gospel Coalition and the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. Time will tell if Rauschenbuschism truly takes hold in traditionally more conservative evangelicalism.

Heresies: Psilanthropism

Psilanthropism is a heresy that teaches Jesus was the product of a sexual union between two human parents. The word is a combination of  ψιλός and ἄνθρωπος, meaning “bare human.” Psilanthropism is a subset and close relative of Arianism, although Arianism usually contains some theistic influence (at least eventually) in their Christology, while Psilanthropists deny deity altogether.

It is a rare heresy, but is present among Unification Church and few others sub-christian groups. It is more popular among false religions that consider Christ a prophet, but not God.

Heresies: Osteenism

Osteenism is one of the five heresies (along with Vinism , Kenyonism, Rauschenbuschism and Theoerosism) coined by Polemics Report or its sister ministry, Pulpit and Pen. Osteenism is so named in the tradition after naming heresies for their founders or most prominent proponents. In this case, Osteenism is named after not the founder, but perhaps the most popular teacher of the heresy, Joel Osteen of Lakewood Church. Osteenism might also be called the Prosperity Gospel or Health and Wealth Gospel.

This heresy teaches that the atonement of Christ provides and promises health, wealth and prosperity for the believer and often, but not always, accompanies the similar but slightly different heresy of Haginism. Osteenism makes the claim that God desires for every believer to be well off temporally, physically and financially, and preaches those promises as an appeal to the lost.

Previous to the 1950s, this teaching was widely known as idolatry, and existed in many different and divergent religions. However, due to the healing revivals of the mid-twentieth century and following on the heals of the modern Charismatic movement, the idolatrous, materialistic belief system became ingrained in American evangelical Christianity. E.W. Kenyon might have been the first proponent of this unique sub-christian stream of thought, claiming in the 1890’s that the atonement of Christ promises physical healing, that healing and material blessings could be demanded or decreed through prayer, and that prayer could bind such promises definitively. It wasn’t until the aforementioned healing revival of the 1950s that Kenyon’s teaching became widespread. Joel Osteen, by far the most popular of Prosperity Gospel teachers, has helped to make the heresy mainstream, with his books espousing the doctrine being sold in Christian bookstores and his sermons being broadcast internationally.

Modern adherents of Osteenism include Kenneth Copeland, the late Oral Roberts, Paula White, James Robison, and many others. The tenets of Osteenism are widely portrayed in Christian media and cinema, in story lines and lyrics that promise tangible, temporal wealth, health or prosperity in exchange for faith in Jesus.

Heresies: Pelagianism

The heresy of Pelagianism is named after its founder, Pelagius of the (354-420). Pelagius argued that Original Sin (the Fall of Mankind in Adam) did not so corrupt man’s nature that it left man incapable of choosing God and salvation without a special work of God in or through him. In other words, Pelagius believed and taught that grace was not needed to give man a will inclined toward belief and embrace of God, because he innately has the ability. Orthodox Christianity, on the other hand, teaches that Original Sin so corrupted man that without a special work of God, man would remain dead in his sins.

Regarding the pseudo-doctrine of Free Will, Pelagius taught that man was also so untainted by Original Sin that by his will he could choose to be sinless, and even though grace assisted good works it was not necessary. Essentially, the notion of Pelagius is that if God requires something of us (for example, personal righteousness or justifying conversion) then we are capable of doing it ourselves without God’s enabling grace.

Pelagianism was condemned a heresy at the Council of Carthage in 418 AD and reiterated at the Council of Ephesus in 431. In various forms, it was also condemned as heretical the Council of Orange (529) the Canons of Dort (1618-1619) and many councils in between.

Modern adherents are multitudinous, and include many who falsely go by the term Arminian, which is not to be categorized as heretical (although it is heterodoxical and might be categorized almost synonymously with semi-Pelagianism). True Pelagians in the modern era include 19th Century evangelist, Charles Finney, and many who follow in his tradition.

Heresies: Marcionism

Marcionism is an ancient heresy that goes back to the 2nd Century AD. It is named after its founder, Macion of Sinope. Marcion believed that Christ was the Savior of mankind, but he asserted that the deity of the Old Testament was a different god than that of the New Testament, who was a higher, more noble deity. M

arcionism is a subset of Gnosticism (Marcion believed that Christ was sent not by the God of the Old Testament, but by the Monad – a Gnostic concept), and similarly held to spiritual dualism. Marcionism rejects the Old Testament en totalis, and denies that it is authoritative Holy Writ. Marcionism was judged a heresy by Tertullian in 203 AD. Whereas Gnostics affirmed their doctrines through asserting hidden or secret knowledge, Marcion affirmed their (very similar) doctrines by a canon of 10 Gospels and 9 Pauline Epistles.

Marcionism seems to have waned by the 5th Century AD, although he is widely quoted by modern enemies of the faith, including German Nazis and Bart Erhman. Certain individuals who hold to the designation “New Testament Christians” or “Red Letter Christians” are inadvertently holding to Marcionism.

Heresies: Gnosticism

Gnosticism is a wide-reaching, ancient and popular heresy that comes from the Greek word, γνωστικός, or “knowledge.” Gnosticism’s most basic tenet is the , the rejection of the material world as essentially bad and embrace of the spiritual as inherently good. Gnosticism predates Christianity, but was tuned and adapted to Christianity at the earliest stages of church history. Gnosticism, therefore, also exists in Judaism and in pagan religions.

Secondary tenets of Gnosticism include:

  • The existence of a singular and distance “Monad” divine being (sometimes known also as The One, The Absolute, or The Beginning)
  • The branching out from the Monad of other divine beings, called Aeons
  • A god who is a creator of all that humanity knows, called the demiurge, who is a picture, type or illusion of the Monad
  • The concept that salvation can be had when created beings inwardly are effected to return to the Monad, returning the individual to a divine nature
  • Jesus was seen as the embodiment of the Monad to bring knowledge to Earth
  • The necessity of having divine gnosis (knowledge) to be one with the Monad and overcome earthly and fleshly existence

Many early non-canonized sub-Christian works are tainted with Gnostic philosophy, and it was perhaps the most common, troubling and persistent doctrines that plagued the early Church.

Modern adherents are usually not fully embracing of Gnosticism, per se, but practice a subset of Gnosticism in any number of off-shoot heresies. Carl Jung and other modern thinkers have adopted Gnosticism or a Neo-Gnosticism, and many sub-Christian mystics are steeped in Gnostic ideology.

Heresies: Docetism

The heresy of Docetism is named for the transliteration of the Greek δοκεῖν/δόκησις, meaning “phantom” or “illusion.” The word refers to the 2nd Century AD teaching that Jesus only seemed to be human, and that his flesh was only an illusion. The earliest signs of Docetism appear in a pseudepigraphal work (a book purporting to be Scripture, but with an unknown author and falsely attributed to someone else), the Gospel of Peter.

Docetism was rejected as heresy at the Council of Nicaea (AD 325). A subset or subsidiary of Gnosticism, Docetism degrades the full two-fold nature of Christ.

Modern adherents include Muslims, whose religion teaches that the crucifixion was an illusion, and certain Christian liberals. Many practice a Neo-Docetism when they allegorize or make into a metaphor the life, death or resurrection of Christ. Jehovah’s Witnesses hold to Docetism, believing that the Resurrection of Christ did not include his earthly, physical body.

Heresies: Audianism

An little-known but widely-practiced heresy in modern evangelicalism is Audianism. Audianism is a teaching named after its founder, Audius, who was a Syrian in the 4th Century AD. Audius taught that because God made man in his own image (Genesis 1:27), that this means that God the Father has a human form. Sometimes practitioners of this belief are called Anthropomorphists.

Jerome and other church fathers widely repudiated the notion that God the Father has a physical body, and it has typically always been considered heretical because of the great many Scriptures that reveal to us that God the Father is Spirit, as well as the Third Person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit. God the Son now has flesh, post-Incarnation.

Many charismatic teachers who purport to have had visions or encounters with God will describe his physical body. Many Heaven Tourism accounts will do this as well, indicating that whoever or whatever they saw or encounter, was not the God of Scripture who “does not have flesh or bones” (Luke 24:39). They fail to see that language referring to God as having hands, feet, or some other body part are mere anthropomorphisms.

Modern adherents to Audianism include Kenneth Copeland, who repeatedly speaks of God the Father having flesh, and many other charismatics who recall stories of supposed encounters with God.

Heresies: Apollinarism

As exceedingly rare heresy, this teaching is named after its founder, Apollinaris of Laodicea. A subset of the wider Arian heresy, this teaching is that Jesus did not have a human mind, denying the hypostatic union and the two-fold nature of Christ as being both completely man and completely God. This teaching was meant to counter Arius, who taught that Jesus was not divine. However, this created an altogether diffeent heresy, diminishing the humanity of the 2nd Person of the Trinity.

This view was condemned as heresy at the Synod of Alexandria (AD 362).

Modern practitioners are few, but some make the case that William Lane Craig is a neo-Apollinarian because of certain statements he has made in regard to the nature of Christ.

Heresies: Adoptionism

Adoptionism is a form of non-triniatrianism and is related to the Arian heresy, which teaches that Jesus was not divine until he was “adopted” at some point during his life (usually at his baptism). In some cases, adoptionists may still not believe in the divinity of Christ. Adoptionism was ruled a heresy by the Synod of Antioch and the First Council of Nicaea.

Although mostly stamped out in the 2nd Century, there was a revival of adoptionism with the growth of the Unitarian sect, which widely held that Jesus was bequeathed the status of divinity and was not the eternal 2nd Person of the Trinity. Certain Mormons, followers of Latter Day Saint heretic, James Strang, also profess this view.

Heresies: Antinomianism

Antinomianism is a sub-christian heresy that teaches one is not subject to God’s Moral Law. Although Christians differ on the applicability of the Sinaitic Covenant and the Ten Commandments (some prefer to consider God’s standard of morality to be the “Law of Christ” or the “Law of Love,” antinomians do not believe that there is a standard of personal morality or obedience to the Scripture’s commands that they are to follow.

The term developed post-Reformation to describe those who took the doctrine of Justification too far, who deny that Christians should strive for conformity to God’s standards as written in the Holy Scriptures. Chiefly, they err when Paul says, “Shall we continue to sin so that grace may abound? God forbid.” Their understanding of grace is that it does not necessarily lead one to repentance or sanctification in regards to keeping the imperatives of the Bible.

Sometimes, followers of antinomianism are called Christian Anarchists. Originally developing from a misunderstanding of Lutheran theology, antinomianism first began among sects of Lutheranism, and was rejected strongly in the Book of Concord. Certain Quakers were guilty of this heresy, as well as the 17th Century sect in the New World, the Ranters.

New Covenant Theologians are often accused of antinomianism because they prefer thinking and speaking of God’s standards of personal righteousness as the “Law of Christ” or “Law of Love,” but characterization of them as true antinomians is not accurate.

Modern practitioners of antinomianism include Joseph Prince and those guilty of practicing “hyper-grace”  who are particularly active in the Charismatic movement, which doesn’t teach concepts like sanctification or conformity to Christ, and doesn’t mention the repentance of sin.

Heresies: Arianism

Arianism is the sub-christian heresy that asserts Christ, who is the Second Person of the Trinity, is in fact a created being or – depending upon the variety of Arianism- became deified at some point in time. Because of this belief, Arians often hold that Christ, who is God the Son, is lesser than – in a deified sense – God the Father.

This heresy is named after its founder, Arius (AD 250-336). Arianism was deemed a heresy by the council of Nicaea in 325. That judgment was reiterated at the Council of Constantinople in 381.

Historically, Arians included Goths and Vandals (AD 500-700), the Polish Brethren (circa AD 1550) and today include Unitarians, Jehovah’s Witnesses and the 7th Day Church of God.