Tuesday, May 01, 2012

...beware of the subtlety of spiritual treason


"I sought to know nothing among you save Jesus Christ and Him crucified." -1 Cor. 2:2

"We preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus as Lord; and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake." -2 Cor. 4:5

"Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." -Phil. 2:5-11

Keeping the Lord Jesus Christ preeminent in ministry is at great tension today. Pragmatism seems to be the official plumb-line that most use to measure and govern the efficaciousness of their local church and/or public ministry.

Tragically, politics marks the day as well. I'm referring to ER2 (Elephant Room 2) where under the undiscerning eye of some key nationally respected pastors, the doctrine of the Trinity was casually abandoned and bartered away for lessor concerns. The culmination being, the one propagating doctrines of demons was confirmed by the new evangelical stamp of a "fist pump." Though I appreciate and love some of the men and ministries associated with this event, I am saddened by their skewed actions and lack of discernment which trumped the Word of God and their loyalty to the Lord of the church.

Here's the concern: organizations like The Gospel of Coalition and Band of Bloggers (though not sponsoring ER2) were publicly silent on this travesty due to their political alliance with those who were involved. They exhibited nothing less than a cowardly demeanor on an essential doctrinal issue - the doctrine of the Trinity. Unfortunately, two evangelical leaders, Pastors James MacDonald and Mark Driscoll (who participated at ER2), foolishly affirmed Modalist, Word/Faith heretic, Bishop T.D. Jakes, as being orthodox. This was done even though to date Wolf-Jakes denies the biblical doctrine of the Trinity vehemently and has never repented of his beliefs. This has profound impact, for it means that he worships another god than the One Triune God of the Bible. Which means he is not saved, but a false teacher, making his converts twice the sons of hell as he is. To add insult to injury, if you dare challenge any of those listed above on this issue as to their theological folly, you will be quickly blocked, unfriended, etc.  Mark it down beloved, error never wants to be challenged, but truth will always invite scrutiny (Acts 17:9-11).

With their tacit approval of Bishop T.D. Jakes as being now orthodox on Trinitarian doctrine, they have redefined successful ministry to three things: 1. influence of public platform  2. numbers and 3. financial benefits. Therefore, to be clear, ON THIS ISSUE, I find these men complicit to heresy, compromised, self-protective, unable to defend essential gospel truth biblically, political, willing to accommodate false teachers, doctrinally facile and theologically timid. Civility it seems (not truth, sound doctrine, biblical theological or loyalty to the Word of God, the Lord Jesus Christ and His gospel) defines their actions. In short, they are milksop, cream of wheat, milquetoast poltroons seemingly more sold out to their religious agendas and alliances, then to the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ!

Language of that spoken by the Apostle Paul is foreign from their current narrative when he says,
"But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God." Acts 20:24
Consider this:
Some emerging churches justify their scatological and irreverent techniques due to the number of people they claim to add to their fold under a neoreformed banner. Their acceptance by blinded evangelical leaders to their popularity is their stamp of approval - not the Word of God.  Christian bookstores will knowingly carry everything from faulty translations of the Bible, to unsound doctrinal authors, plus Christian-trinkets; and will justify doing so for pragmatic and bottom line considerations. It is the same reasoning used by the CCM companies and Christian book publishers for selling their entities to nonbelievers. They have become "unequally yoked" in a spiritual ministry or enterprise with unsaved people; but will do cartwheels to justify surrendering their spiritual autonomy for the sake of widening their distribution to increase revenue... though Scripture forbids it (2 Cor. 6:14-7:1)..

Such is the time we live in; what works in the marketplace, not what is true, rules the day in today's commerce-driven evangelicalism.  Even Christian bloggers are now selling advertising space on their blogs to generate some kick-back revenue from those they advertise.  Making retail of the truth is done with the blink of an eye these days beloved.  And here I was naive enough to think that the blogosphere was actually going to be the last pure commercial free arena for the proclamation of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and doctrinal discussion.  The evangelical pragmatists seem to win every time.  

This faulty methodology has now given way to the acceptance of unsound theology; because the audience (not the Savior nor the Scriptures) is the new "sovereign" in Christian ministry (I.e. consider the embracing of an anti-Trinitarians like T.D. Jakes and Phillips, Craig and Dean. Their market influence has trumped biblical truth even among those who know them to be in error.)

This sea-change was inevitable.

Postmodern Procrustean Beds
In Greek mythology there is portrayed a villainous son named Procrustes, of his father Poseidon, who would arbitrarily prescribe ruthless, torturous phenomenon for patrons of his hostel. He would force his travelers to fit into his "procrustean bed" by stretching his victims or severing off their limbs.

In much the same way, there have been men throughout the ages, many who also today, are passing abhorrent doctrine and skewed theology off as authentic Christianity, that have abandoned the truth of God's Word (1 Tim. 4:1), having laid it upon the "procrustean bed" of deceived, depraved minds (1 Tim. 6:5; Titus 1:15) stretching its truth or lopping it off to suit itching ears (2 Tim. 4:3), wayward hearts (2 Pt. 2:2), and perverted religious systems, creeds, rituals and ceremonies (Col. 2:6-18). This is spiritual treason at its core!

The Apostle Paul warns of such treason and pronounces sentence on those who promulgate this distortion of doctrine and desertion of Christ for a different gospel when he says:


Spiritual Treason
Doctrines of demons abounded in the Apostles day (1 Tim. 4:1). Endless genealogies (Ibid 1:4), myths (Ibid), strange doctrines (Ibid 1:3), worldly fables (Ibid 4:7f), and hucksters peddling the Word of God for profit (2 Cor. 2:17) - but Paul was called for the defense of the gospel (Phil. 1:16) and he would not shrink from the duty of "declaring the whole council of God" (Acts 20:27). Though some were out to make retail of the truth and sell it for whatever worldly prominence, power or paragon they might obtain, truth was a non-negotiable to this great saint as it was to Polycarp, Ireneaus, Ignatius, Athanasius, Augustine, Basil, Ambrose, Tertullian, Chrysostom and other great church fathers. These men sacrificed their lives for the Lord Jesus Christ and His gospel. They took there stand firmly on the Word of God without compromise and without regret.

Athanasius knew this cost when he said,
"The calumniating Greek ridicule us and set up a broad laugh at us, because we regard nothing so much as the cross of Christ."
IOW, they guarded the trust! (1 Tim. 6:20)

The church should not be the place where sin is entertained, scandals abound and disobedience is tolerated, but the church should be what Paul had declared that it is, "the pillar and support of the truth." (1 Tim. 3:15) This is the purpose of all theology, of all ecclesiology, of all music and of all history to preserve, promote, protect and preach the Word! But since Lucifer is a subtle and twisted foe, he will try to pervert all sound doctrine into damning apostasy. "[He, the devil] ...does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him" (John 8:44).

All false systems throughout church history will have an appearance of orthodoxy, but are in reality "white-washed" tombs of abhorrent prevarication. Whether it be the additional revelations of the Montanists; the dualistic and demiurgic mediatorial intellectualism of the Gnostics; the subordinationist Trinitarian theology of the Arians; the kenotic iconoclasm of the Ebionites and Socinians; or the debauched sacradotalism of the greatest of all "angel of lights" (2 Cor. 11:14) - the Roman Catholic Church; the genuine gospel was always blended with the leaven of error to produce heresy. As Louis Berkhof notes when commenting on this syncretism, he so profoundly says,
"Gnosticism...is a stealing of some Christian rags to cover heathen nakedness!"

A Workman Unashamed
Paul declared, "Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved,[a] a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth." This is the duty of every faithful pastor--to rightly divide God's Word--to cut it straight. If he does so, he will be a workman unashamed and approved unto God. This should produce godly fear in every under-shepherd of the flock of God. Wrongly dividing the Word will bring judgment upon you (James 3:1) and cause the body of Christ to suffer. Think of Paul's exhortation to young Timothy; warning the church of two men who failed in this task and their skewed sermons were nothing but cancerous to the body of Christ. ”But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some. (2 Tim. 2:16-18a) When one is injured and gangrene sets in, the only hope to stop the gangrene from spreading further and protect the health of the rest of the body is to amputate the diseased limb. In the same way, when gangrenous teaching finds its way within the church that can damage and disease the entire body, the only remedy for this disorder of doctrine is the amputation of aberrancy so that its poison will not effect the rest of the body of Christ!

As Tertullian so insightfully says, "truth is just as much opposed by an adulteration of its meaning as it is by a corruption of its text."

This, however, presupposes an authoritative "rule and standard" that could be "adulterated... and corrupted." Schaff writes penetratingly when saying,
"The heretical canon of the Gnostic Marcion, of the middle of the second century, consisting of a mutilated Gospel of Luke and ten of Paul's epistles, certainly implies the existence of an orthodox canon at that time, as heresy always presupposes truth, of which it is a caricature."
Heresy always has an element of truth to it and that is why the Councils and Synods, the development of the Creeds had to not only unmask the impostor of the genuine faith but also contend for and reaffirm the truth of authentic faith (Jude 3).

Contend for THE Faith
These were not casual intellectual ping pong matches these men engaged in as though they were the next target on "Firing Line" with William Buckley, Jr. The preservation of truth, the development of the canon, the stance for sound doctrine (uncorrupted and unadulterated) cost many of the early Fathers (from the time of the ascension of Christ to the time of Constantine- and in some cases beyond) their reputations, separation from their families, exile and banishment, torture, persecution and ultimately their lives. The pages of church history cannot be studied dispassionately when the very pages of that history are written with the blood of the saints that held fast the faithful word and did not recant! The Bible is the most sacred thing we will ever hold in our hands in this life. The early church leaders did not shrink from declaring the whole council of God (Acts 20:27) and rightly dividing the word of truth (2 Tim. 2:15). May we not dishonor them nor our Lord by taking lightly the task of preserving orthodox historical biblical Christianity.

To develop a biblical perspective of history a few considerations are necessary: a proper view of God; a proper view of man; and a proper view of truth. History can be and is didactic, political, sociological, biographical, economic, geographic and synthetic. But most importantly history is first and foremost theological. Newman says, "the Christian scholar rejoices in all that is Christlike and heroic, laments the corruptions and perversions of the past, and is most deeply concerned for the honor and purity of Christianity of the present and future.”

Our faith is not built upon the opinions of the early church fathers, their traditions or councils, letters or debates apart from the attestation of Scripture. Though we today owe “the fathers—the divines” a tremendous debt for the faithful warrant and witness preserved on biblical truth; but we must be careful to fathom that our faith is built solely upon the authority, sufficiency and exhaustiveness of Holy Scripture. Truth must always take precedence over tradition - and tradition must always be examined in light of truth! If not, then we are in danger of turning the wonderful recognized traditions of these divines into what I call, "Protestant Popery!" God forbid!

No Creed but Christ
Samuel Davies, that tremendous 18th century divine said,
"I may indeed believe the same things which Luther or Calvin believed: but I do not believe them on the authority of Luther or Calvin, but upon the sole authority of Jesus Christ, and therefore I should not call myself by their name, as one of their disciples, but by the name of Christ, whom alone I acknowledge as the Author of my religion, and my only Master and Lord."
"Follow me as I follow Christ" (1 Cor. 11:1) is the echoing call of redemptive history.

As the early church fathers followed Christ, we follow them. As they affirmed the Scriptures we accept them and their teaching. As the councils affirmed and upheld biblical truth in the creeds, without addition and without deletion, we receive them. As the Puritan divines held fast the faith without compromise, we embrace them. But remove the standard and rule for all conduct of God’s Word and depart from the heavenly plumbline (Amos 7:8), which governs our souls' security and surety for eternity and insures our daily duty and ecclesiastical obligations to elders and laity, from the essence of their dogma; then we must jettison their teachings in obedience to Scripture.


Read carefully the words of Luther that follow and heed the warning of the Apostle Paul to not defect to another gospel. Truth, foundationally, should always trump all other concerns in ministry. These are serious times, needing serious answers, by serious men, who remain uncompromised in the Word of God and in the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

by Martin Luther
from his Galatians Commentary
"Galatians 1:6-9"

Galatians 1:6. "I marvel."
How patiently Paul deals with his seduced Galatians! He does not pounce on them but, like a father, he fairly excuses their error. With motherly affection he talks to them yet he does it in a way that at the same time he also reproves them. On the other hand, he is highly indignant at the seducers whom he blames for the apostasy of the Galatians. His anger bursts forth in elemental fury at the beginning of his epistle. "If any may," he cries, "preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed." Later on, in the fifth chapter, he threatens the false apostles with damnation. "He that troubleth you shall bear his judgment, whosoever he be." He pronounces a curse upon them. "I would they were even cut off which trouble you."

He might have addressed the Galatians after this fashion: "I am ashamed of you. Your ingratitude grieves me. I am angry with you." But his purpose was to call them back to the Gospel. With this purpose in his mind he speaks very gently to them. He could not have chosen a milder expression than this, "I marvel." It indicates his sorrow and his displeasure.

Paul minds the rule which he himself lays down in a later chapter where he says: "Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted." Toward those who have been misled we are to show ourselves parentally affectionate, so that they may perceive that we seek not their destruction but their salvation. Over against the devil and his missionaries, the authors of false doctrines and sects, we ought to be like the Apostle, impatient, and rigorously condemnatory, as parents are with the dog that bites their little one, but the weeping child itself they soothe.

The right spirit in Paul supplies him with an extraordinary facility in handling the afflicted consciences of the fallen. The Pope and his bishops, inspired by the desire to lord it over men's souls, crack out thunders and curses upon miserable consciences. They have no care for the saving of men's souls. They are interested only in maintaining their position.

Galatians 1:6. "That ye are so soon."
Paul deplores the fact that it is difficult for the mind to retain a sound and steadfast faith. A man labors for a decade before he succeeds in training his little church into orderly religion, and then some ignorant and vicious poltroon comes along to overthrow in a minute the patient labor of years. By the grace of God we have effected here in Wittenberg the form of a Christian church. The Word of God is taught as it should be, the Sacraments are administered, and everything is prosperous. This happy condition, secured by many years of arduous labors, some lunatic might spoil in a moment. This happened in the churches of Galatia which Paul had brought into life in spiritual travail. Soon after his departure, however, these Galatian churches were thrown into confusion by the false apostles.

The church is a tender plant. It must be watched. People hear a couple of sermons, scan a few pages of Holy Writ, and think they know it all. They are bold because they have never gone through any trials of faith. Void of the Holy Spirit, they teach what they please as long as it sounds good to the common people who are ever ready to join something new.

We have to watch out for the devil lest he sow tares among the wheat while we sleep. No sooner had Paul turned his back on the churches of Galatia, than the false apostles went to work. Therefore, let us watch over ourselves and over the whole church.

Galatians 1:6. "I marvel that ye are so soon removed."
Again the Apostle puts in a gentle word. He does not berate the Galatians, "I marvel that ye are so unsteady, unfaithful." He says, "I marvel that ye are so soon removed." He does not address them as evildoers. He speaks to them as people who have suffered great loss. He condemns those who removed them rather than the Galatians. At the same time he gently reproves them for rather themselves to be removed. The criticism is implied that they should have been permitting a little more settled in their beliefs. If they had taken better hold of the Word they could not have been removed so easily.

Jerome thinks that Paul is playing upon the name Galatians, deriving it from the Hebrew word Galath, which means fallen or carried away, as though Paul wanted to say, "You are true Galatians, i.e., fallen away in name and in fact." Some believe that the Germans are descended from the Galatians. There may be something to that. For the Germans are not unlike the Galatians in their lack of constancy. At first we Germans are very enthusiastic, but presently our emotions cool and we become slack. When the light of the Gospel first came to us many were zealous, heard sermons greedily, and held the ministry of God's Word in high esteem. But now that religion has been reformed, many who formerly were such earnest disciples have discarded the Word of God, have become sow-bellies like the foolish and inconsistent Galatians.

Galatians 1:6. "From him that called you into the grace of Christ."
The reading is a little doubtful. The sentence may be construed to read: "From that Christ that called you into grace"; or it may be construed to read: "From God that called you into the grace of Christ." I prefer the former for it seems to me that Paul's purpose is to impress upon us the benefits of Christ. This reading also preserves the implied criticism that the Galatians withdrew themselves from that Christ who had called them not unto the law, but unto grace. With Paul we decry the blindness and perverseness of men in that they will not receive the message of grace and salvation, or having received it they quickly let go of it, in spite of the fact that the Gospel bestows all good things spiritual: forgiveness of sins, true righteousness, peace of conscience, everlasting life; and all good things temporal: good judgment, good government and peace.

Why does the world abhor the glad tidings of the Gospel and the blessings that go with it? Because the world is the devil's. Under his direction the world persecutes the Gospel and would if it could nail again Christ, the Son of God, to the Cross although He gave Himself into death for the sins of the world. The world dwells in darkness. The world is darkness.
Paul accentuates the point that the Galatians had been called by Christ unto grace. "I taught you the doctrine of grace and of liberty from the Law, from sin and wrath, that you should be free in Christ, and not slaves to the hard laws of Moses. Will you allow yourselves to be carried away so easily from the living fountain of grace and life?"

Galatians 1:6. "Unto another gospel."
Note the resourcefulness of the devil. Heretics do not advertise their errors. Murderers, adulterers, thieves disguise themselves. So the devil masquerades all his devices and activities. He puts on white to make himself look like an angel of light. He is astoundingly clever to sell his patent poison for the Gospel of Christ. Knowing Satan's guile, Paul sardonically calls the doctrine of the false apostles "another gospel," as if he would say, "You Galatians have now another gospel, while my Gospel is no longer esteemed by you."

We infer from this that the false apostles had depreciated the Gospel of Paul among the Galatians on the plea that it was incomplete. Their objection to Paul's Gospel is identical to that recorded in the fifteenth chapter of the Book of Acts to the effect that it was not enough for the Galatians to believe in Christ, or to be baptized, but that it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses, for "except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved." As though Christ were a workman who had begun a building and left it for Moses to finish.

Today the Anabaptists and others, finding it difficult to condemn us, accuse us Lutherans of timidity in professing the whole truth. They grant that we have laid the foundation in Christ, but claim that we have failed to go through with the building. In this way these perverse fanatics parade their cursed doctrine as the Word of God, and, flying the flag of God's name, they deceive many. The devil knows better than to appear ugly and black. He prefers to carry on his nefarious activities in the name of God. Hence the German proverb: "All mischief begins in the name of God."

When the devil sees that he cannot hurt the cause of the Gospel by destructive methods, he does it under the guise of correcting and advancing the cause of the Gospel. He would like best of all to persecute us with fire and sword, but this method has availed him little because through the blood of martyrs the church has been watered. Unable to prevail by force, he engages wicked and ungodly teachers who at first make common cause with us, then claim that they are particularly called to teach the hidden mysteries of the Scriptures to superimpose upon the first principles of Christian doctrine that we teach. This sort of thing brings the Gospel into trouble. May we all cling to the Word of Christ against the wiles of the devil, "for we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places."

Galatians 1:7. "Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you."
Here again the apostle excuses the Galatians, while he blames the false apostles for disturbing their consciences and for stealing them out of his hand. How angry he gets at these deceivers! He calls them troublemakers, seducers of poor consciences.

This passage adduces further evidence that the false apostles defamed Paul as an imperfect apostle and a weak and erroneous preacher. They condemn Paul, Paul condemns them. Such warfare of condemnation is always going on in the church. The papists and the fanatics hate us, condemn our doctrine, and want to kill us. We in turn hate and condemn their cursed doctrine. In the meanwhile the people are uncertain whom to follow and which way to turn, for it is not given to everybody to judge these matters. But the truth will win out. So much is certain, we persecute no man, neither does our doctrine trouble men. On the contrary, we have the testimony of many good men who thank God on their knees for the consolation that our doctrine has brought them. Like Paul, we are not to blame that the churches have trouble. The fault lies with the Anabaptists and other fanatics.

Every teacher of work-righteousness is a trouble-maker. Has it never occurred to you that the pope, cardinals, bishops, monks, and that the whole synagogue of Satan are trouble-makers? The truth is, they are worse than false apostles. The files apostles taught that in addition to faith in Christ the works of the Law of God were necessary unto salvation. But the papists omit faith altogether and teach self-devised traditions and works that are not commanded of God, indeed are contrary to the Word of God, and for these traditions they demand preferred attention and obedience.

Paul calls the false apostles troublers of the church because they taught circumcision and the keeping of the Law as needful unto salvation. They insisted that the Law must be observed in every detail. They were supporters in this contention by the Jews, with the result that those who were not firmly established in faith were easily persuaded that Paul was not a sincere teacher of God because he ignored the Law. The Jews were offended at the idea that the Law of God should be entirely ignored by Paul and that the Gentiles, former idol-worshippers, should gratuitously attain to the station of God's people without circumcision, without the penitentiary performance of the law, by grace alone through faith in Christ Jesus.

These criticisms were amplified by the false apostles. They accused Paul of designs to abolish the law of God and the Jewish dispensation, contrary to the law of God, contrary to their Jewish heritage, contrary to apostolic example, contrary to Paul's own example. They demanded that Paul be shunned as a blasphemer and a rebel, while they were to be heard as true teachers of the Gospel and authentic disciples of the apostles. Thus Paul stood defamed among the Galatians. He was forced to attack the false apostles. He did so without hesitation.

Galatians 1:7. "And would pervert the gospel of Christ."
To paraphrase this sentence: "These false apostles do not merely trouble you, they abolish Christ's Gospel. They act as if they were the only true Gospel-preachers. For all that they muddle Law and Gospel. As a result they pervert the Gospel. Either Christ must live and the Law perish, or the Law remains and Christ must perish; Christ and the Law cannot dwell side by side in the conscience. It is either grace or law. To muddle the two is to eliminate the Gospel of Christ entirely."

It seems a small matter to mingle the Law and Gospel, faith and works, but it creates more mischief than man's brain can conceive. To mix Law and Gospel not only clouds the knowledge of grace, it cuts out Christ altogether.

The words of Paul, "and would pervert the gospel of Christ," also indicate how arrogant these false apostles were. They were shameless boasters. Paul simply had to exalt his own ministry and Gospel.

Galatians 1:8. "But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed."
Paul's zeal for the Gospel becomes so fervent that it almost leads him to curse angels. "I would rather that I, my brethren, yes, the angels of heaven be anathematized than that my gospel be overthrown."

The Greek word anathema, Hebrew herem, means to a curse, execrate, to damn. Paul first (hypothetically) curses himself. Knowing persons first find fault with themselves in order that they may all the more earnestly reprove others.

Paul maintains that there is no other gospel besides the one he had preached to the Galatians. He preached, not a gospel of his own invention, but the very same Gospel God had long ago prescribed in the Sacred Scriptures. No wonder Paul pronounces curses upon himself and upon others, upon the angels of heaven, if anyone should dare to preach any other gospel than Christ's own.

Galatians 1:9. "As we said before, so say I now again. If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed."
Paul repeats the curse, directing it now upon other persons. Before, he cursed himself, his brethren, and an angel from heaven. "Now," he says, "if there are any others who preach a gospel different from that you have received from us, let them also be accursed." Paul herewith curses and excommunicates all false teachers including his opponents. He is so worked up that he dares to curse all who pervert his Gospel. Would to God that this terrible pronouncement of the Apostle might strike fear into the hearts of all who pervert the Gospel of Paul.
The Galatians might say: "Paul, we do not pervert the Gospel you have brought unto us. We did not quite understand it. That is all. Now these teachers who came after you have explained everything so beautifully."

This explanation the Apostle refuses to accept. They must add nothing; they must correct nothing. "What you received from me is the genuine Gospel of God. Let it stand. If any man brings any other gospel than the one I brought you, or promises to deliver better things than you have received from me, let him be accursed."

In spite of this emphatic denunciation so many accept the pope as the supreme judge of the Scriptures. "The Church," they say, "chose only four gospels. The Church might have chosen more. Ergo the Church is above the Gospel." With equal force one might argue: "I approve the Scriptures. Ergo I am above the Scriptures. John the Baptist confessed Christ. Hence he is above Christ." Paul subordinates himself, all preachers, all the angels of heaven, everybody to the Sacred Scriptures. We are not the masters, judges, or arbiters, but witnesses, disciples, and confessors of the Scriptures, whether we be pope, Luther, Augustine, Paul, or an angel from heaven.


Christinewjc said...

What a great and timely essay!! Thank you for this wonderfully detailed post on how and why we are to beware of spiritual treason. It is so rampant today that many who do not know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior can easily be led astray by such heresy.

Some movements out there (like the gay "christian" movement) are very obviously steeped in error, heresy and apostasy. However, the Emergent church movement appears to be subtle enough in some cases that it can even fool those who have studied the Bible for years...if they are not careful. Your admonition to keep with orthodox, historical, biblical Christianity is paramount to avoiding such deceptions. The fact that many of these offshoots of true Christian faith do not teach Jesus Christ and Him crucified is the warning sign that flashes and tells us that a church, preacher, evangelist or teacher is headed in the wrong direction.

Fellow Christians who are not well versed in Scripture can be in danger of falling for the skewed theology out there which, like you stated in your post, has just enough "truth" in it that they could be fooled by it.

I thank God that His Word reveals to me the fact that the "elect" will not be fooled in this way.

Mat 24:24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if [it were] possible, they shall deceive the very elect.

SJ Camp said...

Thank you for your insightful words here.

I personally believe that the solution to error of this sort is to focus people's attention on the Word of God. Sadly, many still in mainline evangelical and reformed circles are biblically illiterate.

We need the genuine article of truth proclaimed Sunday to Sunday to guard all our hearts and minds from slipping into error and destructive heresies.

Thank you again for you comment.

Grace and peace,
Col. 1:9-14

Christinewjc said...

Dear Steve,

Thank you for your fabulous insight on this issue. When my blog grows up, I want it to be like yours! ;-)

Your statement here reveals much truth:

I personally believe that the solution to error of this sort is to focus people's attention on the Word of God. Sadly, many still in mainline evangelical and reformed circles are biblically illiterate.

My question is, how do we get those who, unfortunately, are guilty of being biblically illiterate back into focusing on the Word of God and away from the heretical movements?

In my conversations with gay christians activists, they always find ways to rationalize their behavior and skew the Scriptures so badly that they make their beliefs appear superior to true Christian faith. They profess that they are "loving" and "tolerant;" while screaming that orthodox biblical Christians are "bigots," "haters," and "intolerant." I have shared their need for repentance numerous times. But it always seems to fall on deaf ears.

Your blog has become a daily visit for me. I truly appreciate your biblical knowledge and writing ability.

God bless you and your ministry here!

In Christ,

john said...

I'm just curious - do you see any "spiritual treason" in the congregation you attend? Do you see any in yourself? Doesn't scripture tell us to remove the log from our own eye before pointing out the speck in our brother's?

I used to be very conservative. But I can't claim that anymore. In looking at my own life and the example of other conservative believers, I think there's plenty of spiritual treason in that camp as well.

That's why people are leaving traditional churches and looking for something different.

For too long, western conservative evangelical churches have tried to mix cultural-ism, commerce and Christ. Our churches are full of deluded people who think they're going to heaven because they prayed a prayer one time to "accept Jesus into their heart".We have paid ministers doing work that is the responsibility of every believer to do. Our building get bigger and our programs more sophisticated, but we're having less and less impact on the world around us.

And Steve - your admonition to stick with "orthodox, historical, biblical Christianity" is amazing! What about American Christianity is historical or biblical? When I read Acts, I don't get a picture of the American church. Most of us would have been excommunicated from THAT sort of Church.

And as for "historical", how many church-going evangelicals actually know ANYTHING about our history? For most of my fundamentalist friends, Church history began in the 1800s. When most talk about "historical", they really mean "traditional".

I echo your call for study of the scripture - but this will only work if we study them properly. To look upon scripture as God Himself is wrong and dangerous. Certainly, the Bible contains the Word of God. But to say that everything in it is 100% perfect and literal is a silly claim that even scripture itself never makes. Reading it this way leads to all sorts of squirrelly doctrines.

SJ Camp said...

Thank you for your comment here brother.. I appreciate you taking the time to voice your views.

The issue of spiritual treason is not of slipping from perfect doctrine on all counts; on the contrary, spiritual treason is a defection and desertion from Christ Himself and the gospel that He has established. In the Apostolic tradition, this includes Paul strong language against those who adhere to a different gospel than the one he gave them.

The consequence is severe: eternal perdition - anathema.

THAT is what this article is about.

By historical, I am referring to two thousand years of what Christianity has always held to as essential in the gospel. Not a small period of time in American or Western culture.

I agree with you that many in our day do not even know what the biblical gospel is and the roots from whence it comes. Isn't that the concern here dear brother? How many attending our churches do not even hear or know the biblical gospel? How many therefore would be lost without hope--even though they think they believe in Jesus?

This is the Lord's stern perilous warning in Matthew 7:21ff. The broad way is marked Jesus; "many will say to me Lord, Lord did we not... depart from you who practice lawlessness - I never knew you." This is the danger isn't it. Many thinking that their view of Christ and what is necessary for salvation is sufficient when in reality it is worthy of only one thing - damnation.

Lastly you said, "Certainly, the Bible contains the Word of God. But to say that everything in it is 100% perfect and literal is a silly claim that even scripture itself never makes. Reading it this way leads to all sorts of squirrelly doctrines."

A few concerns:

1. The Bible just doesn't contain the Word of God IT IS THE WORD OF GOD! (Psalm 19:7-9; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:16ff). Who are you to decide my friend which parts are and which parts are not holy canon?

2. Where do you think the Scriptures do not assert that what is contained in them is not 100% true?

3. What leads to silly claims and false doctrine is not believing the Word of God and everything in it to be true, accurate, infallible and inerrant. Again, you don't go liberal by reading your Bible. The burden is on you John. What parts of the Bible do you think are not 100% true? Give me some examples that illustrate your erroneous claims?

That would be helpful.

Grace and peace,
Jude 3

LivingDust said...

Steve and John,

I've enjoyed reading your exchange and can see that both of you are clearly concerned for the condition of the contemporary Church. If we were to discuss this issue at length I would venture to say that we would agree that the preaching and teaching of a false gospel by contemporary pastors, preachers and evangelists is a root problem in American congregations. If he were alive, the Apostle Paul would surely think that some errant Galatians had somehow made their way to our shores and set up shop. Christine hits the nail on the head by pointing out that most contemporary Christians are biblically illiterate, another root problem. I will add that most contemporary American Christians will quietly swallow just about anything that is spewed from a pulpit and will not dare to confront a preacher of false gospels and doctrines, choosing to exercise worldly timidity and cowardice rather than Christian humility and meekness, another root problem. The responsibility for ignorance of the true Gospel and tolerance of false gospels that permeate our land sets squarely upon the shoulders of each individual believer. When we, as Christ's people, allow pastors, preachers and evangelists to stand in pulpits unopposed, week after week, as they proclaim something other than the biblical Gospel, then we are derelict in our Scripture-defined duties.

Morris Brooks said...


From your remarks I would doubt that you have ever truly been conservative. Like most others you probably "believed" things because that is what you were supposed to believe, but on the inside there was never a personal understanding of the basis of that belief, and, therefore, no personal committment to that belief. You just simply went with the crowd. Maybe this isn't you, but I suspect it is. However, this seems to be the pattern with so many who have come out of traditional churches and now have adopted more of an emergent/liberal belief system.

Your comments about the Scripture are also telling. The Scriptures don't claim to be literal, but they are observedly literal. The Scriptures do claim to be true. Get a concordance or some good bible software and look up the words true and truth and see the multude of times those words are used regarding the Scriptures themselves, and since God is the ultimate author of Scripture this is what He is saying about His own Word.

Usually when someone makes the statement that the Bible contains the Word of God they are neo-orthodox in their theology. They will say that the Bible is inspired and that the Scripture becomes the Word of God as it interacts with them, or becomes truth as it applies to their own life. This allows them to pick and choose what they want to believe or apply and simply discard whatever they don't like. It also allows them to make the Scriptures apply however they want them to without regard for context, like your use of Matthew 7:1-5.

Finally, to validate what they are doing they will say they are followers of God the Jesus way. I have a feeling this may be where you are. But the reality is that unless you are following the Word, explicitly, completely, honoring it, exalting it, and submitting to all of it you can't be living as Jesus, because that is the way He lived so that He could fulfill all righteousness and be the perfect Lamb of God.

Just because a church is traditional, seeker, emergent, or whatever does not mean it is a good church. In fact there are no perfect churches, but no matter what the flavor the sole authority, guide, and arbiter of what is truly Christian is the Word of God. It is not traditions, programs, feelings, rules, or personal preference.


john said...

Thanks for reading and considering my comments. That's more than many other bloggers will do.

In Timothy, Paul says that all scripture is inspired by God and useful for reproof, correction and training. I believe this - but in context.

At the time Paul was writing, there was no Bible as we know it. So to say that he was talking about our canon is a big stretch. How are we sure Paul knew he was writing "scripture" and not just a letter to a friend. He certainly never personally endorsed it as rising to that level of authority. In fact, he even points out a couple times that some of his ideas are his own - not necessarily those of Christ.

As for other scriptures that speak to the "Word of God" - that's not always used to mean the Bible. In the old testament, God spoke many times - outside of scripture. He spoke at creation. He spoke through prophets. He spoke through a donkey. It isn't math. To assume that every time we see "Word of God" that means "Bible" or even "Jesus" is incomplete.

Jewish scripture contains many types of literary forms. The psalms are songs - poetry. Stories are told with obvious symbolism and interwoven with Jewish numerology (40 days, 12 lampstands, etc). It's a rich and complex book. So why are we taught to read it like it's a Maytag dryer repair manual? "If it says it, I believe it!"

Well, scripture tells us to stone people who don't observe the sabbath. It speaks of cutting off the hands of a thief and gives instructions on selling one's daughter into slavery. Even in the new testament, we're told that women's heads should remain covered in the sanctuary and they should be silent in the presence of men. They should not teach nor bother with loads of makeup or jewelry.

It's interesting how the modern American church has weeded through there and picked what they like. Yes to the no teaching - but no to the head covering. They can wear makeup and jewelry. And we've decided it's a bad idea to sell them into slavery. And we like the old prohibition against homosexuality, but aren't really down with all the other prohibitions of the old law (planting two crops on the same field, etc).

My point is that scripture isn't math. It's not science. It's literature. We should read it like it's intended. Read poetry as poetry. Read history as history. Read allegory and parable as intended. It really is much more difficult and subtle than we give it credit for. Most people stop short because it gets hard. Studying the origins of scripture is messy and not near as neat and tidy as ameri-christianity with it's neat formulas and 1-2-3 step instructions.

sbj said...

I thought I was the only one who called it "Treason" but that's just what it is.

It's just too bad that far too many believers don't see it that way........but I sure do!

gigantor1231 said...


At the best you are very confused regarding the proper interpretation of scripture, at the worst you are not saved at all and the Holy Spirit does not reside in you. We have conversed regarding this very topic a number of times and the fact is you ape the people that you listen to, Brian McLaren, Donald Miller and looks like a number of other false teachers as well.
I am still praying for you that one day God will actually open your eyes to the truth

Jack said...


You're correct that Scripture contains different genres that need to be approached in their own way. The Bible is a hard book - and yet not too hard to understand its message. Your issue seems to be trusting the Canon as we have received it. I would recommend studying the topic instead of conveniently rejecting those parts of Scripture that do not seem to fit your worldview. There are many good books out there that show how God has superintended the Scriptures we now have.

gigantor1231 said...

John and Jack

Just to make some things clear, the writers or the Bible really did not have a choice in the matter of writing the word of God, at least in that they had surrendered their lives to God through Jesus Christ. So they were his instruments that God Chose to supernaturally pen his word! God did not superintend the word, He simply used the Patriarchs, Prophets and Apostles to write it. The word carried along in the Greek is φέρω phero, and it means to be driven by a force, like a leaf caught up in a swift current it has no control and is at the mercy of the stream, so were those that penned the word of God;

1 Peter 1:20, 21;

20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For kno prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (2 Pe 1:20-21). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

While it is true that the Bible can be understood, it is the Holy Spirit that illumines the eyes of men. Just as Jesus was revealed to Peter by the Father to be the Christ, the son of the living God, so is the remainder of the word of God illumined to man. Otherwise the eyes of the un-saved are veiled by Satan 2Corinthians 4:3,4. God has revealed the mysteries of the kingdom of God to those that He has chosen, Mt. 13:11-16.

David said...


Thank you for the thoughtful post.

I don't believe it is possible to have perfect doctrine. Every time I've thought that I did, a few years (or months later), I realized some error I had. ;)

But I wholeheartedly agree that it's important for people to actually know what historic Christian doctrine is: In particular, to know what the Gnostic cotntroversy was; to know what the Arian controversy was.

I think you're right; a lot of stuff today boils down to one or the other of these.

On this note, I observe that our approach to the Scriptures themselves often reflects these two controversies.

Some think that the Bible is purely something to dissected using Western philosophical thought. I contend that these people are applying the Arian heresy to the Scripture. Just as Jesus is fully human, he is also fully divine. Similarly, if you read Protestant preachers from 100 years ago you will commonly find them saying things like, "It's important to find Jesus in every page of the Bible if you really want to understand it." The Modernism theological movement that has (IMO) infected a lot of Evangelicalism comes to mind here as an example of where this heresy can crop up.

On the other hand, some purely approach the Bible as types, (pre)figures, symbols. I contend that these people are applying the Gnostic heresy to Scripture. By ignoring the human, rational, and yes philosophical nature of the Scripture, they want to find types and symbols to the exclusion of using the Canon as the measuring-rod for revelation that it was intended to be. Some charismatics (but not all) can tend toward this error.

Having said that, as I think you are, I am constantly evaluating myself, encouraging brothers to evaluate themselves, and encouraging us all to grow. At various times in my Christian walk I have tended toward one of these errors or the other.

But, thankfully, Father wants a RELATIONSHIP, and "he who began a good work will be faithful to complete it." There is grace.

On a totally different, and equally practical point, I was wondering if you are aware of any Christian musicians who are dedicated to freely lavishing their music on the Body of Christ just as Mary lavished the aromatic oil on the feet of Jesus?

Perhaps this could be done by publishing on the web freely, even including the original recording stems and encouraging others to remix, and publishing the remixes if they are better than the originals? It would be open source software principles applied to Christian music so it can be truly offered in freedom and charity, rather than in obligation--especially obligation to the world?

Have you considered working with your contacts to help create something like this or are you aware of anyone already doing this? If so, could you connect me with them?