Bishop John Shelby Spong has long denied the fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith. Here are some of his books:
Feel free to post a comment below on which heresy of Spong gets you the most angry!
Before we study the areas of Bibliology (revelation and the Scriptures), Theology Proper (the doctrine of God), Christology (the doctrine of Christ), etc., we need to talk about some preliminary issues.
We’ve talked a bit about faith, the need to struggle for the truth, and the concept of belief. Belief in the Bible is not gullibility, but a reasoned decision to align oneself with God’s reality.
The opposite of truth, of course, is heresy, a word that means “choice.” Why are Jehovah’s Witnesses heretics? They affirm the existence of God, the inspiration of the Bible, and the need of salvation. They are heretics because they choose to deny the doctrine of the Trinity, the deity of the Lord Jesus, and salvation by grace alone through faith alone.
“Heretic” is a strong word conjuring up images of people being burned at the stake. But heresy, untruth, is all around us. It may take the form of a formal denial of biblical truth or the spirit of the age which tells us to live for ourselves.
Jude writes to urge us “to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people.” And that sometimes involves dealing with heresies.
(I’ve written a short booklet entitled Whatever Happened to Heresy which you can order here).
I am honored to participate in this year’s “Iron Sharpens Iron” conference for church and assembly leaders which will be held on May 22-25. Details on the conference may be found here.
I have the privilege of speaking to the conference as a whole twice: My message at the beginning of the conference is entitled: “Orthodoxy Under Fire: Who’s Shooting and Why?” My message at the end of the conference is entitled: “A Life of Living Biblically.”
I want to share a couple of details of these upcoming messages — and welcome feedback from my readers.
PLENARY SESSION #1: “Orthodoxy Under Fire: Who’s Shooting and Why?”
There are so many questions to deal with in this session. Can “orthodoxy” even be defined? Can it be achieved or attained? There are those who say that no one has reached orthodoxy yet. I will be sharing the results of my study of the use of the word “truth” by the Lord Jesus in the gospels and the expression “the faith” used in the New Testament epistles.
To the question, “Who’s Shooting?”, I hope to touch on several critics of orthodox Christianity, both “the sons of the church” (meaning those who have been in the Evangelical environment and have turned away) as well as outsiders. Brian McLaren, a friend of 40 years ago who has embraced classical liberalism, writes: “I don’t think the liberals have it right. But I don’t think we have it right either. None of us has arrived at orthodoxy.” (to be continued)
1. Where do you see orthodoxy challenged?
2. What biblical principles guide you in dealing with those who are denying the Christian faith?
Reason #1- I could move to California and take up surfing. Presently, in South Carolina, I’m even afraid of snorkeling. I have a deathly fear of paddling out into the deep, getting ready to spring up on my surfboard, but then hearing CELLO music, indicating the shark from “Jaws” was really not a special effects machine created for the movie, but a real monster of the deep who feasts on slightly overweight Bible-thumping Evangelicals. Like me.
Reason #2- Knowing that whatever I write will become an instant bestseller. Bell knows that critics like me will buy his book to ferret out his heresies and write lengthy critiques that other slightly overweight Bible-thumping Evangelicals will read and go “yep. That’s what I thought too!” And he knows that liberal Christians love what he is saying and will also buy his book. I want to star in my own stream-of-consciousness promo videos and have others parody them. Presently, I’ve written about eight books which have sold, well, not as many as Rob Bell. I like to write — and it would be nice if people bought what I wrote.
Reason #3: I want to be thought of as one of the 1000 most influential people in the world. In 2011 Rob was viewed as one of the one hundred most influential people of the world. I’d be happy for one of a thousand. Or even a million. But even my dog won’t come when I call him, my cat looks at me like I’m out of my mind to even address him, and others always think I’m kidding when I’m trying to be prophetically influential. It’s sad. Really.
Reason #4: I want to tell stories that people read and say, “Wow. I never thought of the hypostatic union or dispensational premillennialism like that! Man, that anecdote really helps!” At my age, when I attempt to tell a story, I forget some of the details, or I unintentionally make some up, or I don’t remember why I started telling the story in the first place. Or it dawns on me that I told that person or that class or that church exactly that story a week or a day or an hour ago. It’s so embarrassing.
Reason #5: I want to have important people like John Piper tweet about me. I would prefer it be something other than “Farewell, Larry Dixon,” but anything would make my day. I know. What if I wrote a book entitled “Desiring Piper”? Or “When You Don’t Desire Piper”? I feel so small.
[to be continued]
In these articles I deal with figures like Origen, Carlton Pearson, Brian McLaren, Rob Bell, and others who have deviated from the Christian faith.
Please click on the links below to read these articles.
The first article is entitled: “Whatever Happened to Heresy” and may be found here:
The second article is entitled: “Whatever Happened to Heresy?” “Heroes or Heretics? — Two Classic Examples” and may be found here:
The third article is entitled: “A Biblical Approach in Dealing with Heretics” and is found here:
The fourth article is entitled: “Help! One of My Friends and Some of His Friends Seem to Be, How Shall I Say It?, Uh, Heretics!” and is found here:
Comments are always welcome!