Monday, April 02, 2007

Yes Virginia, There are False Teachers

I know many believers who profess a a strong love and dependence on the Bible. In virtually any and every conversation with them reference is always made to some portion of the Scriptures. Many times the passages they refer to are taken out of context, but it at least indicates an understanding that our faith is based on God's revelation of Himself and His will in the Bible. It tells me that, at least, if we come to a topic that is clearly addressed by Scripture, the Bible's instruction on the point should be the authoritative answer that should settle all debate. But, then again, I used to sell Amway products.

One such topic that seems crystal clear to me is that there are, living and breathing today, false teachers. It seems equally clear to me that the Bible makes it clear that there would perpetually be false teachers throughout history. Jesus, Himself, instructed us to, "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves" (Matthew 7:15 ESV) I looked up the word "beware" in the greek; you know what it said, it said "BEWARE"!!! The arguably clearest evidence that the would be false teachers throughout history comes from the Apostle Paul. In Acts 20:29-30 he states, "I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be alert . . ."(ESV). I asked my 7 year old son, Kyle, about these two passages and he answered my questions about them correctly. This is from a kid who still watches "Spongebob"!

So why do so many credulous Christians, year after year, swallow blatantly false teaching and support false teachers? Here's a shocker . . . I have a few ideas.

1) Pride. I have a sneaking suspicion that many believers do actually know that they have fallen prey to one of those "ravenous wolves" Jesus was talking about; but they are just too proud to admit that they were taken in so easily and for so long. So they are not really that involved where they attend church. They just go because, hey, the pastor puts on a really good show and since they have to go to church anyway they might as well have a good time.

Certainly, they can't let "heresy hunters" like myself prove them wrong. In their minds, they are just as good a judge of character as anybody else and there no way that they could have been duped. Theology is over-rated anyway, and theologians are just a bunch of unloving, divisive, old white men.They can read the Bible for themselves without any help from them, thank you very much! Besides, "them Morton boys sho' can sang"!!!

Being in a position of leadership in a false church also creates quite a hold on the pride victim.

2) Emotional Attachment. Some common traits among false teacher are: they are very charismatic, they tend to be very warm and loving, they are very philanthropic, they had great hardship and/or pain before entering the ministry. These traits tremendously endear them to their congregations. This figured largely in my own case.

When an emotional attachment is in force, a person confronted with the fact that his/her pastor is a false teacher will look for any and every possible loophole to exculpate that pastor. The intense loyalty begotten by these warm fuzzy teddy bear pastors makes all the controverting evidence from their own mouths completely inconsequential. The emotionally attached person while make statements like: "You are taking my pastor out of context,when he said 'men are little gods", "Just because the words 'Jesus was not God' came out of his mouth doesn't mean he believes that" and my personal favorite "he needs that Gulfstream V private jet to spread the gospel".

3) Pragmatism. When you question this person about their Bishop's heretical teachings on the Trinity, he might say, "I found my wife at this church", "My business has flourished since I joined this church", "Pastor said I was going to get a house and I did", "This church has wonderful programs for my kids".

4) Biblical Illiteracy. Yes, these folk read the Bible, but only through the grid that their friendly neighborhood false teacher provides for them. These folks find insights such as: God is a being standing about 6 foot 2 inches tall and weighs about 230lbs(Kenneth Copeland), or each member of the Trinity has His own body, soul and spirit; therefore there are nine of them (Benny Hinn)as absolute revelational gold!!!

For these people "Hermeneutics" might as well be the latest exercise craze from Sweden.

Of course, this doesn't even nearly exhaust the reasons people fail to obey Paul's admonition to avoid these false teachers (Romans 16:17). Instead when " . . . someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we (Paul and the Apostles)proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough" (II Corinthians 11:4).

Yes Virginia, there are false teachers even today. But they don't wear t-shirts that say, "Hi, I'm a false teacher"! Their warmth and charisma are the bait by which the capture the believer. "For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds" (II Corinthians 11:13-15).

What does it matter whether it is intentional or not? Your reward in heaven, your witness as a Christian, perhaps your very relationship to the Eternal God of the universe hangs in the balance.

Wake up o sleeper! To the proud: "Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall" (Proverb 16:18). "So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin"(James 4:17).

To the emotionally attached: " . . .you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength"(Mark 12:30).

To the pragmatist: "'Consider your ways. You have sown much and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns his wages does so to put them into a bag with holes . . . Consider your ways . . . that I may be glorified', says the LORD. You looked for much and behold it came to little. And when you brought it home it blew away. Why, declares the LORD of Hosts. Because of my house that lies in ruins, while each of you busies himself with his own house"(Haggai 1:5;7-9).

To the biblically illiterate: "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge . . ."(Hosea 4:6). " . . . no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit"(II Peter 1:20-21). "Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth"(II Timothy 2:15).

Oh, one last thing. Here's a little something I learned while pledging my frat:


Excuses are the tools of the incompetent.
They build monuments to nothingness.
And he or she that uses them seldom excel at anything at all" Big Brother Sir, roof!

(Be Like the Bereans, Baby!!!)

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