Tag Archives: false teaching
“The greatest danger to the church today is not humanism, paganism, atheism or agnosticism. The greatest danger is not increasing hostility against our faith from the culture. Our greatest danger is apostasy on the inside, arising from false teachers- theological liberals who deny and distort biblical doctrine and lead others down the same path.”
― Mark Hitchcock, The Coming Apostasy: Exposing the Sabotage of Christianity from Within
“Ugh, this is the third time this month—what now!?!” he shouted in a rare outburst. Osteen then suddenly realized that the tens of thousands of people who come to his church for a self-help speech every Sunday were watching him intently. “Oh, uh, heh—I mean, it’s no problem. I, uh, just had that little outburst so you could see what NOT to do.”
“See, you don’t want to let negativity in your life,” he said, regaining his composure as he plastered a fake smile on his face.
After the service, Osteen had a pulpit mechanic in to look at the sleek, stainless steel podium. The mechanic hooked it up to his portable computer. “Ah, here’s your problem, bud,” the worker said. “Looks like you’re preaching the Word-Faith gospel again. See, when you tell people that all they have to do to solve their problems is speak words of positivity, it trips the warning on this model.”
“I recommend repenting of your false gospel right away,” the mechanic said helpfully.
Osteen then thanked the mechanic for his help and paid him to rip the Check Theology light right out of the dash.
“Sorry, only six months!” “SIX MONTHS TO LIVE, Doc?” “That’s right. Say, you could use some of that time to engage with some unbelievers who are attacking the Christian faith!” “Okay, Doc,” I said, as I left his office with only 180 days left on this earth.
What if I, what if you, had only six months to live? How would your life be different over the next 180 days?
Several holy habits ought to mark each of us if we are followers of Jesus. We must spend time in His Word; we must take prayer much more seriously than we do; we must follow Jesus’ example and be a friend of sinners; and we must look for opportunities to disciple others!
Another holy habit, I would suggest, applies to those who have been believers for a while. There are some strong challenges to the gospel, the reliability of the Bible, and the exclusivity of Jesus. Titus 1:11 says, “They must be silenced, because they are disrupting whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach—and that for the sake of dishonest gain.” False teaching and teachers must be confronted. And Christian leaders need to read books they know will boil their blood before they get past the preface (my definition of a “boiling book”).
Here are a few books by the false teacher Spong:If you’ve been a believer for a few years, you need to read some books that don’t agree with your Christian convictions, especially if some of your unsaved friends are being influenced by them. Faithful readers of this blog know that I did a 22-post review of Michael Thielen’s book What’s the Least I Can Believe and Still Be a Christian?
The Bible, of course, has much to say about being spiritually healthy. We are a health-obsessed culture, aren’t we? I love the little book by Dave Barry entitled Stay Fit and Healthy Until You’re Dead! But what about our spiritual health?
God’s Word has so much to say to individuals and families about being spiritually healthy. If all 66 books of the Bible are the Word of God, and if God cares about our families, then it is reasonable to pick any book of the Bible and ask, “How can the truths of this book help me lead and develop a spiritually healthy family?” We read in 2 Timothy 3:
Let’s take a second look at the first chapter of Titus:
We have already seen that the spiritually healthy family cares deeply about the local church. Let’s notice a second truth from this passage and it is this —
The Spiritually-Healthy Family —
II. Recognizes False Teaching in Its Many Forms and Opposes It (vv. 10-16)
A. Not All Will Believe the Truth of the Gospel (v. 10)
How we respond to unbelievers is critical! We are here for them — but we protect ourselves from their rebellion by being faithful to the Word.
B. Disruptive Error Must Be Confronted and Corrected (vv. 11-14)
Those who are moving on in spiritual maturity must confront false teaching among God’s people, because ideas have consequences!
C. Unbelief Corrupts! (vv. 15-16)
Unbelief in God’s family is not innocuous. Those who claim to know God must be trained in the truth.
(We will continue this five-part series over the next few days)
Going to Korea! (I wonder if they will use me in their peace talks?!). I get to teach the book of Galatians to undergrads at the Word of Life Bible Institute on Jeju Island (see red circle below)!
Let’s now see a second theme: We should oppose any compromise of the gospel! We get Paul’s report of his confrontation with Cephas [why does Paul refer to Peter with that name?)]. Paul “opposed him to his face”! What was Cephas’ sin?
The answer is that he was compromising the gospel by not eating with Gentile believers! Cephas was unduly influenced by some in the “circumcision group” and other Jews (including Barnabas) were “led astray” (v. 13).
The law brings DEATH (vv. 19-20), but Christ brings LIFE (v. 20). Trying to be justified by keeping the law means that one “sets aside the grace of God” — and that is something no missionary should ever do!
What have you been reading lately? READING is a Christian discipline which needs to be cultivated and practiced. It is so easy to allow others to do our thinking for us, don’t you agree?
I’m all for reading good Christian books — and I’ve written a few over the years. But I believe it is also important to read books that are not from a Christian perspective. Brand new believers need their reading diet to be from strong and sound books that help them grow in their Christian lives.
For those of us who have been believers for a while, it is quite likely that some of our non-Christian friends are reading books that we too need to read. Some of those books are direct attacks on our Christian faith. I call these “books that will boil your blood before you get past the preface”! Here are some of those books which I’ve read over the last few years:
Each of these books challenges some major areas of Christian faith. What books are YOU reading that challenge you to think more deeply about your beliefs?
Friends: Have I got a deal for you! My book, Whatever Happened to Heresy?, will be sent to you IF you send $8 to my PayPal account: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Go to Paypal.com, click on “Pay or Send Money,” and that’s it! I’ll be notified via email that you have paid for the book and I’ll send it to you. You are also welcome to send me your shipping address (email me at email@example.com).
Whatever Happened to Heresy? is a collection of essays that were originally published in The Emmaus Journal. We define heresy, touch on some famous heretics in church history, and analyze contemporary false teachers and their aberrant doctrines. (By the way, the cover’s original artwork is meant to represent Rob Bell’s rowing away from orthodoxy).
When we look around us at an unbelieving world, what is the Christian to do? Wring his hands in despair? Keep focused only on his own walk with God and ignore the world? No, we have seen in this one-chapter letter of Jude that we are to, first of all, keep ourselves strong in the faith (vv. 1-4). We must, however, be aware of attacks on the Christian faith (vv. 3-4). Third, we saw that we must be prepared to do battle for the truths of Christianity (vv. 3-4). In our last post we realized that we must acknowledge that the Lord who delivers is a God who also destroys (vv. 5-7).
Let’s look at our fifth response to an unbelieving world and it is this —
Step #5- We must Realize the Dangers of False Teaching (vv. 8-10)
8 In the very same way, on the strength of their dreams these ungodly people pollute their own bodies, reject authority and heap abuse on celestial beings. 9 But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not himself dare to condemn him for slander but said, “The Lord rebuke you!” 10 Yet these people slander whatever they do not understand, and the very things they do understand by instinct—as irrational animals do—will destroy them.
False teaching is not innocent. Contradicting the truths of God’s Word must not be viewed as simply alternative viewpoints or different perspectives or another set of religious opinions. Jude tells us these false teachers, who give way too much authority to their own dreams, “pollute their own bodies” (v. 8). Self-pollution comes from false teaching. An air of unteachableness marks them, for they “reject authority,” not wanting to be corrected. They also “heap abuse on celestial beings.” I’m not sure what Jude means by this expression, but we know that we are to have a healthy respect for, but not undue attention on, the members of the angelic world God created.
To illustrate his point, Jude gives us a view into the angelic world, citing the archangel Michael as one who turned to the Lord in his dispute with the devil about the body of Moses (v. 9). Apparently Jude is alluding to the Jewish Testament of Moses (approximately the first century A.D.). His point is that Michael “knew his place” and deferred to the Lord in dealing with the devil. Jude stresses that these contemporary false teachers slander what they don’t understand — and what they do understand will destroy them. (to be continued)
“The sin both of men and of angels was rendered possible by the fact that God gave us free will.”
― C.S. Lewis
1. We often think of false teachers and their teaching as negatively impacting others. What are some effects of false teaching on the teachers themselves?
2. How do we achieve a biblical balance between not thinking too much about angels and giving them too much attention?
In our previous blog, we expressed our wish to be Rob Bell. I suggested the first five reasons and they were:
Reason #1- I could move to California and take up surfing.
Reason #2- I would know that whatever I wrote would become an instant bestseller.
Reason #3: I want to be thought of as one of the 1000 most influential people in the world.
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!”
Reason #5: I want to have important people like John Piper tweet about me.
In this second part, five more reasons occur to me:
Reason #6- I would make videos that would be used by youth groups around the world to stir theological discussion and cause senior pastors to invest in Tums in trying to answer the questions which are raised. Bell’s video series “Nooma” has some really good stuff. It also has some not-so-good stuff (I think of the video “Bullhorn” which presciently raises some issues dealt with in his book years later called Love Wins). Because I’ve written a lot about eternal lostness, if I were able to produce some videos, they might well be called the DOOMA videos.
Reason #7- I would like to have the great freedom of asking all kinds of theological questions, feeling no obligation to answer any of them! “I’m just asking questions” isn’t really a defense, because the way a question is asked, the circumstances under which it is asked, the tone of asking — none of these are strictly neutral. Let’s not forget that the serpent in the garden was a master questioner: “Did God really say?” There’s a really good blog about Bell’s way of presenting his theology by Alastair Roberts found here. Roberts compares Bell’s approach to advertising’s efforts to produce a feeling or an experience, rather than set forth an argument.
Reason #8- I want to have Christians picket my meetings. I would be thrilled if someone told me, “There are Christians outside passing out tracts, calling you a heretic!” In my present ministry, I’m lucky if anyone remembers what I preached on. Sometimes even I forget!
Reason #9- I want people to hold seminars and workshops and post blogs challenging my teaching. So far, only my mother-in-law has read my Ph.D. dissertation (“The Pneumatology of John Nelson Darby 1800-1882”), my children have read one or two of my books (one because DocTALK was required in the class she took), and my wife has said, “Good thing we’re not counting on your royalties for our retirement!” Just once I’d like to see someone, somewhere host a conference on “The Theology of Larry Dixon.” [It would be my luck to find out that they were really talking about the NASCAR drag racer Larry Dixon – see photo]
Reason #10- The last reason I wish I were Rob Bell is I would have the opportunity to re-examine my own teaching and listen to Evangelical leaders who are saying that I have abandoned the gospel and need to get back to what was my first love — teaching the Bible. I truly believe that Bell’s gospel is toxic, that he has moved away from the Scriptures on the doctrine of eternal lostness, and that his newest book sounds like he might be moving into a kind of panentheism. Bell has also recently come out in no uncertain terms in favor of same-sex marriages. He says,
Seriously, I pray for Rob Bell that he would come back to the full authority of the Scriptures, that he would use the platform he has to preach the true Good News about Jesus, and that he would humble himself before the Lord and seek godly counsel. May we all do the same.