Apostasy

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Apostasy is the act of leaving a religion, either to convert to another religion, or to atheism, deism, or agnosticism.

In some theocratic countries apostasy is punishable by death. In most religions, apostasy is punishable by eternal damnation, a fate worse than death.

Sources defining and discussing the standard meaning of apostasy:
Merriam-Webster - apostasy (merriam-webster.com)
Dictionary.com apostasy (dictionary.com)
TheFreeDictionary.com apostasy (thefreedictionary.com)
Merriam-Webster - apostate (merriam-webster.com)
Dictionary.com apostate (dictionary.com)
Your Dictionary: Apostasy (yourdictionary.com)
Wikipedia - apostasy (wikipedia.org)
Wikipedia - Apostasy in Judaism (Wikipedia.org)
Wikipedia - Apostasy in Islam (Wikipedia.org)
PewResearchCenter Which countries still outlaw apostasy and blasphemy? by Angelina E. Theodorou (pewreasearch.org)
Apologetics Index: Apostasy (apologeticsindex.org) includes apostasy from cults and cultic responses to those who have apostatized from their ranks
Mormon Think: apostasy (mormonthink.com) Article discussing phenomenon of apostasy from the ranks of the Latter-Day Saints, and how the LDS Church defines "apostasy".
Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology: Apostasy. Mark W. Karlberg (biblestudytools.com)
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: Apostasy; Apostate. Dwight M. Pratt (biblestudytools.com)
Catholic Encyclopedia: Apostasy (newadvent.org) This article defines multiple meanings of apostasy.

Apostasy and heresy

Apostasy differs entirely from Heresy.

Heresy is the obstinate post-baptismal denial of one or more or almost all of the truths of the faith.

Apostasy is the obstinate, post-baptismal, total repudiation of Christianity, and the absolute rejection of the name and identity of "Christian". An apostate wants nothing to do with Christianity.

Compare The Great Heresies list of heresies committed by Catholics

Compare Lists of former Christians (wikipedia.org)

"Apostasy" misused

The word "Apostasy" and "Apostate" does not properly apply to anyone or to any church that (still) claims the name of Christian, however false their claim to be Christian might be. For example, those whom Paul called "false brethren, false apostles" (Galatians 2:4; 2 Corinthians 11:12-15). They may have departed from the truth, they may be guilty of formal and material heresy, they may have rejected every Christian doctrine, belief and practice in their teaching and preaching, they may be liars, they may be virtual atheists, but if they have been baptized and have not renounced the name of Christian they have not actually committed apostasy—even if some Christian commentators have ignorantly and improperly abused this word by saying such people are "apostates".

Many writers have redefined the following terms as equal to and synonymous with apostasy. They are not.

See examples of this improper usage of "apostasy" in the following articles:

Christian Crier: What Is Apostasy? A Biblical Definition. Article by Jack Wellman (patheos.com)
CARM Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry: Apostasy in the Christian Church, by Matt Slick (carm.org)
What is apostasy and how can I recognize it? (gotquestions.org)

By definition the term "Christian apostate" is an oxymoron. A man or woman may be a very bad Christian. That does not automatically make them apostate.

Hebrews 6:6 "apostatize"

The biblical text of Hebrews 6:4-6 is a direct reference to apostasy, a "falling away" or abandoning of Christ. The word παραπεσόντας parapesontas in verse 6 is translated as both "fall away" and "apostatize". It derives from the basic Greek word παραπίτω "parapiptõ" (KJV "fall" Strong's number 3895): "to fall aside, that is (figuratively) to apostatize."

4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, 5 And have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, 6 If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. KJV (boldface emphasis added
Evangelicals and fundamentalists understand verse 6 as a direct reference to the Eucharist. Catholics and Orthodox understand this same passage as a direct reference to apostasy, and see it as directly related to Hebrews 10: 26-31
26 For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, 27 But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. 28 He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: 29 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. KJV (see Transubstantiation)

See
multiple translations of Hebrews 6:6
multiple commentaries on Hebrews 6:6
the basic text of Hebrews 6:6 —παραπεσόντας "having fallen away" (from God)
100 Bible verses about Apostasy

See also

Great Apostasy

Excommunication

Intolerance

Cafeteria Christian

Cafeteria Catholic