Friday, February 27, 2015

Dealing With Heresy, Though None Dare Call It Heresy

Is the NPP controversy an intramural dispute between Evangelical Christians? Is this a debate between brethren? Unfortunately this is generally the way the issue is framed whenever it is debated. Very few are willing to draw the conclusion that this is anything else. It isn't politically correct. It isn't nice. And if there is anything that is unforgivable in contemporary "Christianity," it is failing to be nice when dealing with heretics.
Neither the Old Testament prophets, nor the New Testament apostles, nor Christ himself was "nice." Rather, their ministries were characterized by confrontation. Elijah confronted Ahab and mocked the priests of Baal. Jehu rebuked the godly king Jehoshaphat for his compromising with Ahab and declared, "Should you help the ungodly, and love them that hate the LORD? Therefore is wrath upon you from before the LORD" (2 Chronicles 19:2). David declared of the enemies of the Lord, "Do not I hate them, O LORD, that hate you? And am not I grieved with those that rise up against you? I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them my enemies" (Psalm 139:21-22). Christ himself repeatedly confronted the religious leaders of his day, the official spokesmen for Second-Temple Judaism, and his rebukes were sharp in the extreme. Today's "Evangelicals" extend the right hand of fellowship to wolves in sheep's clothing and count heretics as "esteemed brethren." (3)
The great question before us is this: Is the Gospel of Jesus Christ a negotiable doctrine? Can the church even exist without the Gospel? We are not dealing with minor differences, but with errors that are totally destructive of the Christian faith....

A maxim in the political world says, "Treason never prospers; what's the reason? If it prosper, none dare call it treason." The parallel maxim in ecclesiology would be, "Heresy never prospers, for if it prosper, none dare call it heresy." Is this the reason that we never hear of any minister or seminary professor being charged with heresy, despite the apostasy all around us, even in Reformed churches? Is this why we never hear of any church court accusing a false teacher of being a false teacher? 

The Old Testament is replete with warnings about false prophets. The New Testament is replete with warnings about false teachers. Twenty-two of the twenty-seven books of the New Testament contain such warnings. The churches are filled with theological confusion, error, and unbelief, yet we never hear these warnings from the lips of church leaders. Instead, we see false teachers honored as "esteemed brethren." We see them accepted and even honored by the churches. And we see those who would confront them in the spirit of Elijah, those who would strip away the sheep's clothing and expose the wolves, sanctimoniously condemned as troublemakers, unloving, and schismatics. Heresy must be prospering in the churches, for none dare call it heresy.

Let us heed Paul's words: "For I know this, that after my departing grievous wolves shall enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember that for the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears" (Acts 20:29-31). "For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as ministers of righteousness, whose end shall be according to their works" (2 Corinthians 11:13-15).

~The Trinity Foundation on "The New Perspective on Paul"

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