There are no references in the Bible allowing believers to accept false doctrine. Additionally, there are no instructions to accept false teachers. However, to the contrary, we are commanded to expose and mark them. Identifying false teaching is done so those deceived may escape deception. Reproof of false teachers is done to promote repentance in them. The Bible clearly states: “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which you have learned; and avoid them.” (Romans 16:17) Peter taught: “…there shall be false teachers among you, who…shall bring in damnable heresies… and many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.” (2 Peter 2:1-2 excerpts)
Re-Thinking the Scriptures
In today’s “post-modern church” people are encouraged to discover God and understand “truth” for themselves by experiential / inter-relational methods. There is a trend toward toleration of error, and encouragement to re-explore the “truth” outside of the scriptures. We are told to find our own way. We are encouraged to re-think the “gospel” and many of the fundamental doctrines held (and defended, at the expense of physical comfort and even life itself) by Christians over the centuries. This “new” way of “discovering God” flies in the face of all sound biblical interpretation.
It is true that those who have been in error, the cults, et al. and under the sway of deception, should “re-think” what they believe. However, their re-thinking must be by way of good Bible interpretation and practice.
Many of those “re-thinking” the gospel are those who have been taught the truth and are now “re-thinking” by way of humanistic reason and foolish practice.
Signs of the Times
Upon careful examination of this trend I have developed a list of identifying “signs” to assist you in discernment.
- Developing beliefs and characteristics of the “post-modern church.”
- Redefining the Christian faith to accommodate the “post-modern” mind.
- Redefining the doctrine of hell – hell as not being literal.
- God’s judgement interpreted as simply being embarrassed by your sin or an inability to gratify your desires.
- Reinterpreting the substitutionary work of Christ at Calvary.
- Questioning the inerrant authority of scripture.
- Seeing the bible as primarily a “story,” or narrative for discussion.
- Ammilenial Theology: proclaiming the Kingdom of God as established on earth at the present time.
- Questions are esteemed higher than answers.
- Promoting spiritual disciplines: meditation, fasting, contemplative prayer, breath prayers, centering prayer, labyrinth prayer walks, guided imagery, Lectio Divina (listening with the heart), Ignatius Examen (Discovering God in daily life experiences), ritual praying, stations of the cross, etc. to enhance or achieve Godliness and sanctification.
- Promoting the mystical, the sensory and the experiential.
- Truth is relative to and determined by cultural influences or tradition.
- Reluctance to label homosexuality sin.
- Life experiences determine theology and orthodoxy.
- Language is oriented around self – feelings, opinions, and attitudes.
- Community, relationships and unity are highest priorities.
- Uncomfortable with historic christian orthodoxy as having an exclusive claim on truth.
- Toleration of ideas and theological positions that contradict solid biblical enterpretation.
- Avoidance of verse-by-verse bible teaching. Topical teaching.
If a child is playing in the cupboard and ingests ammonia, bleach or some other hazardous material we quickly respond with measures that rescue the child from harm. If a family lay asleep in a burning home and we become aware of the impending danger, we respond in an effort to save the lives of those threatened. False teaching and false doctrine have the same (and worse) effect. It is poison and may threaten the eternal destiny of those who are deceived by it.
Paint by the Numbers
Over the years I have illustrated Biblical interpretation as a “paint by the numbers set.” If the picture the artist intends we paint is Jesus, and color number 1 is blue, color number 2 is green, etc., it will be necessary to paint by the numbers to correctly develop an accurate picture. If we choose to paint the picture “our way” and neglect to follow the directions, the end result is a picture that misrepresents the Lord. Herein lies the problem with this post-modern trend. The end result will be heresy and apostasy.
The Spirit of Babylon
How long will we allow this trend to continue before we speak up? How far will we go in an effort to provide “unity” among those who call themselves believers? What will be compromised? Will we be seduced by the spirit of Babylon and give in to error at the cost of disobeying the Lord?
The Spirit of Babylon is in the world today. It embodies independence (from the Lord), rebellion, self, pride and human focused unity. The Lord says, “come out of her my people.”
“Earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” (Jude 1:3)
Blessings upon you all,
Pastor Paul D. Van Noy