Apostasy from αποστασία or heresy from αίρεση, what is the difference? In the Early Church Fathers, not much. Heresy was a teaching which lead into apostasy while apostasy meant to leave the faith. Later perceived differences were compiled by the scholastics among others. The basic teaching of the Early Church Fathers is of importance now in the time we are in. In this we can see how false teachings like the synchretist Ecumenical movement are heretical in that they divide Christ by claiming that He is an historical personality but a separate spiritual one accessible to all men through any religion of their choice under any name. This is one of the main tenets of Gnosticism. Gnosticism has always been condemned as heretical and apostate. The heresy of Gnosticism divides Christ and leads men into paganism under the guise of a universalist cosmic Christ which in actuality is the cosmocrator of ancient paganism. That is nothing more than pantheism and is the basis for all paganisms. To embrace that is to apostasize from the faith. Furthermore, the effect it has on society is to produce a relativistic nihilist despair into the void of which the totalitarian solution presents itself as an answer. The interim stage is the anarchy of every man is a law unto himself. The Gnostic teachers produced this effect in the Early Church. They were condemned for that as well as the false teachings they promulgated. Increasingly the Church turned to defining ecclesiastical discipline under ecclesiastical law as a result. Invariably the question arose of who was in charge. In the early third century the idea that a single individual was in charge of the Church was considered total Gnostic apostate heresy. Zephrynus and Callistus had proposed this at that time and been condemned for it. According to St. Irenaeus, Simon Magus, the one from whom all the Gnostic heresies derived and who guilty of trying to inculcate all sorts of paganism into the faith, had tried this in the first century by trying to make out that he was part of the Godhead, was totally condemned for all of this. By the time of Pope St. Gregory the Great (died 604 A.D.) St. Gregory still condemned the idea that one bishop would be the universal bishop over the whole Church as the precursor of the Antichrist. The Early Church had taught that Gnosticism would be the base for the Antichrist to arise from. The many early Gnostic teachers are like the many today who are a law unto themselves. But the proponents of One Universal Earthly Head over the Church are indeed those who are bringing in the reign of the Antichrist, for that one will try to supplant the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ is the only one Who is head over His Church which He founded by His Blood. Two variants on a theme, both of which are evil. Anarchy on one hand (just watch evangelical charismatic television for examples) and absolute rule by one fallible individual on the other. Both disasters in the making. Those who recognize the evil of the all pervasive Gnostic reinventions of the Charismatics and Ecumenists then turn to excoriating others by the name they carry such as Catholic and Orthodox, condemning one another. Instead, having recognized the big evil they should be allies in this time, but instead set the stage for the Antichrist by insisting on only one visible eccesiastically defined body with a head. Such insistence is a vain attempt to define every single detail of the faith. In fact the Early Church taught that if the simple doctrine held by a body of believers was in fact Catholic, that is reflecting the true teaching of the Apostles, then it was genuine; they did not insist that every imaginable detail be defined before a body of believers be recognized as true. On the other hand they did not tolerate evil teachings masquerading as true, such as simony or permissive unrepented continual amorality or claiming that idolatrous pagans were in fact somehow worshipping the True God (which is utterly untrue of course); all Gnostic inventions, now reinvented by the Charismatics and Ecumenists.
The effect that all the above has on society in terms of moral norms and civil law is two fold and two staged. One — the anarchy of the hedonists and the subsequent paralysing of moral law (mores and folkways, expected by society). Two — the abrogating of Church teaching on right and wrong and the replacement of a true Monarch's civil law with the Gulag State. (Two examples are Communist Russia and The French Revolution) Sandwiched in between is an amoral society that pretends it is moral and relies on a fascade of law presented by opportunistic Socialist Codifiers and their bully boys, the harassing beast sadists. This is the sure recipe for the Reign of Terror on the heels of the mentality of naturalistic so-called enlightenment.
In both the cases of faith and religion and of civil law, anarchy replaced by the leader principle is the destruction of revealed truth and order. It is devolvement and not evolutionary (as if anything could evolve, it surely can't). It is entropy in the realm of human relations and never enthalpy. It is doom in short order.