Throughout history there have been devastating consequences to false doctrine. In the 1930's there was a 'Nazi form Christianity.' Church schools were closed and an 'anti-Semitic attitude' was imposed. Heroes like Dietrich Bonhoeffer emerged. His courage is honored to this day.
Numerous cult leaders conned their followers. Jim Jones, November 18, 1978 led more than 900 men, women and children to their deaths in what became known as the Jonestown Massacre. The clear warning came when Jones proclaimed himself to be the messiah of the Peoples Temple.
Years ago, Dr. J. I Packer wrote a short article "The Gospel – Its Content and Communication." He said: "Sooner or later, the biblical Gospel, in which God the Creator appears in judgment and mercy reconciling the world to Himself, will itself be relativized and thereby distorted through being assimilated to man's prior interests. The world will write the agenda rather than God's.' (Serving the People of God, J. I Packer, Paternoster Press).
Years ago Youth With a Mission leader Floyd McClung wrote: "There is no perfect church. People can look at our church and find as many faults as we can find in theirs." And that is so true. But every church needs a squad of diligent members who know the Bible and endorse right and wrong doctrine. It is a tragedy when ignorance of biblical truth allows false theology to pass without question.
During the recent holiday season Giulo Meotti, Cultural Editor for Il Foglia offered a provocative question: Why are so many Christian leaders silent as obvious distortions to the faith are taking place? (See "Christian Clergy Welcomes Islam in Churc, Then Bows to It,' Giulo Meotti, gatestoneinstitute.org – Jan 4, 2017)
Admittedly most of the illustrations he offered came from Roman Catholic sources but they were to say the least, disturbing and demand loud resounding protest.
Consider these illustrations.
- In July last year a verse from the Koran was read from the altar. (That in itself should set alarm bells ringing!)
- "A priest in the south of Italy enraged parishioners by dressing the Virgin Mary in a Muslim burqa for his church's Christmas Nativity scene."
Meotti pointed out Pope Francis initiated the embrace of Islamic theology when he was 'the first to allow the reading of Islamic prayers and Koran readings from the Vatican.'
The 'luke-warming' of genuine Christian theology goes further and the Italian writer shocks when he reports: "Church of England Bishop Harries suggested that Prince Charles's coronation service should be opened with a Koran reading. In the US, more than 50 churches, including the Washington National Cathedral, hold Koran readings."
These facts are stunning. I am astounded we have not heard of congregations calling for biblical honesty. Church members should be up in arms!
I can understand recent developments in China. The Communist Party is pushing the Church to promote socialism. That attack is to be expected. However when the error comes from within, hackles rise. No preacher or church leader should be threatened when asked to explain the word they preach. We are all accountable before the Lord and when teaching, we are accountable to each other.
I like what the Dictionary of Bible Themes says about 'Doctrine' describing it as: "The body of teachings of the Christian faith concerning its central beliefs. Doctrine is grounded in Scripture and aims to maintain the integrity of Christianity by distinguishing it from non-Christian beliefs." And there is the vital, inevitable key. Bible teaching is not compatible with the ways of the world. It confronts.
There is a stern warning for those who seek to influence biblical truth. "Not many should become teachers, my brothers, because you know that we will receive a greater judgment." (James chapter 3, verse 1) I am not sure we have all embraced that promise with 'fear and trembling.'
The Apostle Paul wrote to his friend Timothy: "For there will be a time when they will not put up with sound teaching, but in accordance with their own desires, they will accumulate for themselves teachers, because they have an insatiable curiosity and they will turn away from the hearing of the truth, but will turn to myths." (2 Timothy chapter 4, verses 3 and 4) Paul warned the time would come when people preferred to have their ears tickled rather than embrace biblical truth.
There are numerous challenges facing Christians today. Same-sex marriage and abortion are high on the list. We are instructed to love everyone without question. We also have a call to lead them into a vibrant faith in Jesus. To witness for Christ we must show them His difference. Social responsibility is a huge issue. How do we reach out to refugees and yet apply the appropriate wisdom to curtail terrorism?
Certainly Jesus is the answer but airy fairy solutions could put many innocents in danger. As Christians we are called to walk in wisdom but showing His love to 'widows and orphans' is a priority.
There is an excellent quote attributed to Christian singer-songwriter Rich Mullins: "We were given the Scriptures to humble us into realizing that God is right, and the rest of us are just guessing."
St. Paul warns, "See to it that no one makes a prey of you by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the universe, and not according to Christ" (Colossians chapter 2, verse 8).
I have always needed close Christian friends who I trust and consult on doctrine and biblical interpretation. Of course the Holy Spirit is our ever-present guide and the source of truth and wisdom.
False preaching and false doctrine will always replace Jesus with something as the essential focus and that right there, is the clear stop sign.
Ron Ross is a Middle East consultant for United Christian Broadcasters (Vision FM). Previously he was radio news editor for Bridges for Peace in Jerusalem, Israel.
His career started at WINTV (Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Ron Ross' previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/ron-ross.html