It was stated in an article I read a few years ago that the greatest "heresy' in the American form of Christianity may well be the "heresy of application." By this the author was conveying the idea that, for many, the "form" [application] became as sacred as the"function" [interpretation] of the text. The author suggested that this may be the case with many "Truths/Doctrines and their application to life. We begin to hold a "way of doing it" to be as sacred as what is "to be done." So we wind up, for example, arguing over the elements of the Lord's supper and who serves it.
Another rather simple, even shallow illustration of this is the function of prayer. To pray, by scriptural definition, is to commune with God who is Spirit with your spirit. [This is the only way to pray without ceasing makes any sense. I'm aware that the word 'ceasing' means intermittently like a hacking cough.]
But the next person teaching on prayer suggests that to bow one's head and shut one's eyes will help because you shut out distractions. Good idea. Except the next teacher says that prayer IS bowing your head and closing your eyes in order to commune with God who is Spirit with your spirit. Thus, the form my wife and I enjoy of raising our glasses of water/tea and toasting the lord while both of us are thanking him for the meal and each other with eyes on each other, is NOT real prayer. But by scriptural definitions it is. Application [form] is NOT sacred and binding. You see the problem.
Another illustration, perhaps just as shallow is the use of the Bible. God speaks through His Word. That's the function of scripture. When we read the text He speaks to us. Someone teaches this as..."God speaks through His Word [function] so when you meet Him early in the morning you are putting your focus on Him first." Nice, even a correct statement. But the next person teaches that since God speaks through His Word and since it's wise to focus on Him first, you are really spiritual when you meet Him early. NB..NB becomes their teaching. "No Bible, no breakfast" if you want to really be spiritual in your walk is their teaching. So if I read my newspaper first or get ready, go to work, and have a time in the Word at lunch, by their definition I'm not spiritual.
Of course, were this really "Truth"then no one could have been really spiritual until the invention of the printing press and the mass distribution of the Bible. The "truth" is God does speak through the text of the scripture and ANYTIME you choose to read He will speak and you ARE spiritual by the Grace of God. Different personalities will choose different times to read the bible. Prior to his home-going I heard Ron Dunn say many times that with his personality it was NEVER early in the morning. [Of course, he would then add that he was doing it another time to not be prideful since no one brags about a quiet time unless it's early. :)] Thus, the "heresy of application." The "form" [how you do it] becomes as sacred as the "function". [What the scripture says .] It must not be lost on us that much, if not most, of our debating is about the "applications" we make of the truths of scripture.
All of this to say, this very well may play out in other areas. It was stated on a blog I read recently that one who called someone an "idiot" should not have. I would agree. That is attacking a person's character if not their intellegence. But a commentor said "to call one a 'spooky fundamentalist' is no different and you did that." The response from the blogger who said the person should not have used "idiot" was..."No, the post said 'spooky fundamentalism' and was refering to a philosophy or theology that is to be avoided, not to a person or individual." I checked. He was correct. This is my point. The commentor made an application in his mind [which I've done many times] that the phrase MUST be refering to______. [You add a name of one you admire.] The commentor THEN states as truth that the admired person has been called a "spooky fundamentalist." But were I to do this, and I have, the truth is not my "application" of what/whom I thought was being referenced, but what was, in fact, said.
I guess I'm calling for all of us to be honest about our application and call it that. Our application. It is not "the truth." I may be stating what I think is a logical conclusion, but it is only my conclusion, not the statement of the one with whom I'm talking. When this simple distinction is made one will not state as facts anything about the behavior or actions of a person that cannot be factually documented and such documents would have to be in one's possession. Even then it would be a speaking of behavior, not people and their character. Maybe I'm naive, but it would seem to me that this is the decent thing to do even if a person is not a christian. But for "believers" it seems a "must" to me. But I'm just me.