the weblog of Alan Knox

I know you’re a heretic, but what am I?!

Posted by on May 3, 2011 in blog links, unity | 48 comments

I know you’re a heretic, but what am I?!

(Adding my voice to the “Rally to Restore Unity.”)

The word “heresy” gets tossed around these days like dough at a pizzeria. If we disagree with another Christian, we drop the “H-bomb,” take our pet doctrine, and go home.

In fact, we’ve created new categories of believers: 1) those who are right like us, 2) those who are slightly wrong and suspect but still okay, and 3) those who are heretics and therefore undeserving of our company.

We separate over many disagreements even though, in Scripture, disagreement is not disunity. Irony of all ironies, when we allow disagreements to lead to disunity between brothers and sisters in Christ, we are actually the heretics!

What?!?!

It’s true. In Scripture, “heresy” refers to separating from other Christians. If you separate from someone who you consider to be a Christian, then you are a heretic.

Like I said, ironic, huh?


48 Comments

Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 5-3-2011

    I so agree.

    Once I told a brother that I read some books by Greg Boyd and actually liked some of them. Boyd and I have some very big disagreements, but I decided to read some of his stuff for myself. Some of his stuff I liked and some not so much. However, I discovered that we don’t disagree as much as I expected. And even where we do disagree it was still obvious to me that this guy is my brother in Christ.

    The brother I told this too was shocked and wondered how I could read and like a heretic like Boyd. I think he was disappointed in me, especially when I told him I didn’t think “heretic” was a label that should be attached to Boyd and considered him a brother in Christ.

    In a few weeks, they left our church fellowship.

  2. 5-3-2011

    I wonder how you take Rom 16:17 (and section)?

    Is it the lack of following good doctrine laboriously detailed in doctrinal statements, or is the “teaching” (doctrine) that of non-divisiveness?

    This probably is also informed by Titus 3:8-11 (cp Titus 1:10-16)

    Titus 3:8-11 This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men. But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain. A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject; Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.

    1:10-16 For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision: Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake. One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, the Cretians are alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies. This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith; Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth. Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled. They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.

    Rom 16:17-20 *Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences* contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple. For your obedience is come abroad unto all men. I am glad therefore on your behalf: but yet I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil. And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.

  3. 5-3-2011

    Great post for the rally. I love it.

    I wrote something similar a while back: http://www.tillhecomes.org/heresy-of-christianity/

  4. 5-3-2011

    I have a few “pet doctrines” Alan…

    Like, Jesus died on the cross as a payment for my sin

    Am I being “devisive” if I refuse to compromise on things like that?

    Am I being a narrow-minded, self-seperating “heretic” if I choose to believe what God says instead of trying to please men?

    If a person claims to be a “Christian”, and yet totally rejects the fact that Jesus died as an atonement for sin, as the “Passover Lamb”, how could I possibly be “unified” with them, since they turn their back on the very thing that makes entrance into the Kingdom of God possible?

    Jesus never esteemed superficial “unity” over the Truth. Sure, there are plenty of people who are completely off the hook and drop the “H-bomb” like it’s goin’ out of style, but that sort of extreme doesn’t change the fact that scripture is very clear that we are called to disassociate with those who are clearly teaching false things and distorting the message of Salvation. (Paul’s little comment about how he wished the Judaizer’s would go all the way and cut off their whole *ahem* comes to mind… Not exactly the kind of statement you make when trying to achieve unity with people who “disagree” with you…)

    I think I understand the point you are making though, I do… I understand that there are tons of people ready to call someone else a “heretic” because they don’t read the King James Bible, or whatever, but again, just because there are those types of examples, we can’t allow ourselves to react to them to such a degree that we prize “unity” over the Gospel itself…

    I say this because we live in a day and age when the Gospel of Jesus Christ is being polluted and distorted like never before. There are more false teachers (“heretics”!) than ever before. Church institutions (and “non-institutions”) are being infiltrated on every level, replacing the Gospel of the Bible with a gospel of tolerance, relativism and universalism. These are not things we can have “unity” with! They are lies from the Enemy, the doctrines of demons….

  5. 5-3-2011

    Scott,

    Yes, that’s exactly what this post is about. Do you think you could have handled the situation differently to promote unity? (I’m not saying you did anything wrong. I’m asking for my own benefit, because I’ve had similar things happen.)

    Art,

    If I understand what you’re asking, then, yes, I agree with you. Unity with one another is part of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It’s a “first tier doctrine”, as some would put it.

    Jeremy,

    Thanks! And thanks for the link.

    Daniel,

    Yes, if someone denies Christ or the effectiveness of his death for atonement, then I would not consider that person a Christian. This post is specifically about those that we consider Christians, believers, brothers and sisters in Christ.

    -Alan

  6. 5-3-2011

    Well, I suppose I didn’t really find that distinction being made anywhere in the article itself, since you said:

    “In fact, we’ve created new categories of believers: 1) those who are right like us, 2) those who are slightly wrong and suspect but still okay, and 3) those who are heretics and therefore undeserving of our company.

    So, wouldn’t your statement in your last comment (“if someone denies Christ or the effectiveness of his death for atonement, then I would not consider that person a Christian”), fall under the “third category”…?

    And so in the end I’m a little confused as to how you yourself are not guilty of doing the very thing your article is seeming to denounce….

    Is the problem simply about the use of the term “heretic”, or the actual act of pulling away from those who reject the essential truths of the Gospel? Because to me, the post definitely seemed to be a derision of the latter (even if you were doing it in a somewhat light-hearted way)…

  7. 5-3-2011

    Daniel,

    Look at that part you quoted again. Those are three categories of “believers.” I made sure to use the terms “Christian,” “believers,” and “brothers and sisters in Christ” throughout this short article. The problem that I’m addressing is that too many Christians separate from other people who they also accept as Christians. According to Scripture, this is heresy – separation or division.

    -Alan

  8. 5-3-2011

    We would do well to remove the ‘H’ word from our vocabulary.

  9. 5-3-2011

    I just want to point out something I noticed in Alan’s post. It may clarify this whole “unity” with unbelievers issue. In this very short post, Alan makes it clear five times that he is talking about interaction between believers:
    1) “If we disagree with another Christian”
    2) “we’ve created new categories of believers”
    3) “between brothers and sisters in Christ”
    4) “separating from other Christians”
    5) “someone who you consider to be a Christian”
    So I think that kinda rules out people who don’t believe that “Jesus died on the cross as a payment for my sin…” At least for me that is sort of the definitive belief that makes one a Christian. If someone doesn’t hold to that truth then it seems like the points made in Alan’s post would not apply to interaction with that person. At least that was how I read the post.

    Dan

  10. 5-3-2011

    Yes… I read the quote, and that’s really what confuses me, because it really doesn’t make any sense when you break it down…

    The quote itself is somewhat self-contradictory, and that’s what I’m trying to understand…

    You describe three categories of “believers” (but are they “believers” from your perspective, or the person using the “H-bomb”?)

    From your own descriptions of the three categories, it’s hard to see how the “H-bomber” would see the third category as a true “believer”…

    Again, you outlined:

    1) “those who are right like us” (i.e. those who totally or mostly agree with us theologically)

    2) “those who are slightly wrong and suspect but still okay” (i.e. those we disagree with but not over issues considered “essential”…)

    3) “those who are heretics and therefore undeserving of our company” (i.e. those who we disagree with to such a degree that we cannot consider them a fellow Christian and thus disassociate with them)

    Personally, I have never encountered someone who would call someone else a “heretic”, and yet still somehow consider that person to still be a “Christian”. I mean, isn’t that the whole point of using such a dramatic word? Isn’t that how it’s always been used? It’s a pretty severe word! Who ever uses the word “heretic” to describe someone they vehemently disagree with, and yet still consider them a fellow believer? (I’ve never met one!) The whole premise is logically flawed…

    So again I ask, do you simply oppose the use of the term “heretic”, or is the concept behind that word? What if I used a different term? Would it make much of a difference in the end?

  11. 5-3-2011

    Bob,

    I’ve seen the term misused enough to agree with you, unless we change how we use it.

    Dan,

    Yes, that’s what I was saying.

    Daniel,

    Thanks for sticking with this conversation. I understand what you’re asking now.

    Yes, the three categories are from the perspective of the person who drops the “h-bomb.” And, yes, I had in mind several instances that I’ve heard the term “heresy” used to refer to people who were still considered Christians.

    -Alan

  12. 5-3-2011

    What if these people claim to believe the gospel, and you think deep down they really do, but they act in such evil and hurtful ways that you have to walk away from them?

  13. 5-3-2011

    Stephanie,

    That’s a very good question, and it’s a HUGE problem in the church in general today. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that there is very little community, so there is no one (or few people) to help you handle those circumstances. I think there should be people who have relationships with both parties who come along side them and mend that broken relationship and help one or both parties with the issues that caused the hurt. How can it happen in church in general today? I honestly don’t know.

    -Alan

  14. 5-3-2011

    Okay, thanks for the clarification… In that sense, then yes, I totally agree that people shouldn’t be using the term “heretic” if they fail to even understand the implications of what they are really saying…

    Now, if I use the term “heretic”, it mostly definitely is in reference to people who are teaching things so false as to nullify the gospel message…

    Teachings such as, “Over the past dozen or so years, one of the relationships I have learned the most from has been with a dear colleague who is an adult convert to Mormonism. While I think Mormonism is nearer to being the fourth Abramhamic faith than to being a division within Christianity and while we differ on more points than we agree on, we both know without hesitation or any qualifying discussion that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior, Son of God and Son of Man. What I have learned to appreciate is that so long as that belief is the central one, all the rest of our divergent doctrines tend to feather out into long, intellectualized discussions full of words, but not necessarily of holiness or even salvific significance. The other thing I know is that she, in every part of her life from diet to family to work to worship, exercises a discipline and orderliness and obedience that I could never attain to in a hundred lifetimes and that, by her own admission, those ways of being and doing come up out of her Mormon faith and are her praxis…. (Phyllis Tickle – http://rachelheldevans.com/roundtable-unlikely-friendships)

    Really? Mormons believe that “Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior, Son of God and Son of Man”, just like Christians???

    Apparently no has explained to Phyllis Tickle that Mormons actually believe that “God” is the merely physical father of the humans on this planet, and that like him, we can all aspire to go on and become gods of our own planets someday, or that Mormonism is a works-based “gospel” through and through, and will lead no one to the true Jesus…

    Rather “ironic” that this is the kind of “Christian unity” that Rachel Held Evans is promoting in her “Rally to Restore Unity”, don’t you think…?

  15. 5-3-2011

    Daniel,

    My post, and in fact all the posts that I write about unity, is about the relationships among those who are Christians. Other people taking part in the Rally to Restore Unity are talking about unity among different religions. For example, in the quote from Phyllis Tickle, you’ll see that she actually places Mormonism in the same category as Judaism and Islam (i.e., other Abrahamic religions that are not Christian). Also, she didn’t say that Mormons believe things about Jesus “just like Christians.”

    Now, the question about unity among different religions is an interesting one to me, but not one that I’m seeking at this point. I’m much more concerned with unity among brothers and sisters in Christ.

    -Alan

  16. 5-3-2011

    Muy bueno Alan

  17. 5-3-2011

    Herejía se usa como una medida disasuoria, la palabra píerde su fuerza

  18. 5-3-2011

    Daniel,
    There many times when I don’t agree with posts on this blog. There are many times when I don’t agree with the resulting discussions from some posts. But your comments seem very agrumentative and laced with rage. What is your issue?

  19. 5-3-2011

    Alan,
    Thanks for this post. It’s interesting how much the “h word” is thrown around these days by Christians. I myself was called a heretic AND a goat about a month ago for suggesting that we not judge blindly before being Bereans and doing due diligence to study for ourselves. And who called me a heretic and goat? Christians. So my ears have been tuned in to this label that the Church seems so willing to slap on anyone who disagrees with, as Alan called it, their pet doctrine. It’s really opened my eyes and heart to many things within the Church. Thanks again Alan for posting. I appreciate the things you have to share.

  20. 5-3-2011

    Jeremy, I just read your blog on the topic. That’s good stuff. Here’s my thoughts – http://coffeehouseconversations.blogspot.com/2011/03/on-march-16-2011-i-became-heretic-who.html

  21. 5-3-2011

    So, all the denominations that have sprung up throughout the centuries in order to seperate from another group over a pet doctrine in essence are “Heresies?”

  22. 5-3-2011

    Lemme just say that if believers here in South Africa threw around the H-bomb like Christians do in the States (especially at seminary), there would be disunity everywhere. For example, the translation of the Scriptures into Sesotho is not that great. Every Sunday Wim and I struggle to explain exactly what certain parts of Scripture mean (and people come with those kind of questions every Sunday). Between teaching in English, Wim’s primary language being Afrikaans, them reading in Sesotho, and me not understanding much of anything…there are some misunderstandings. You come to church one Sunday and all of a sudden, someone claims they have been born again (….again). Instead of casting that person out for believing they have been saved “again”, we have to go back through the Scriptures and discuss it together.

    I understand what you mean about disunity between believers, Alan, especially in the context of those three categories you mentioned. They are prevalent here, and they easily form because understanding of the Scriptures in Sesotho is difficult (like us reading Ancient English literature, before King James). Without the focus on maintaining unity in a gentle and loving way, things would literally fall apart.

    Jason

  23. 5-3-2011

    Stephanie,

    My “issue”, I suppose, is that overall I fear we are on the brink of the greatest Deception the world has ever seen, and that seemingly-innocent attempts at “love and reconciliation” such as the “Rally to Restore Unity” are simply tiny snapshots of what is coming…

    and I probably am a little “laced with rage”… If so, it is because it grieves my heart that hardly a day goes by anymore without hearing someone like Phyllis Tickle using soft, soothing words to deceive people and lead them away from Christ… (I am undoubtedly argumentative as well, and that is probably something I still need to work on…)

    “For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect…” Matthew 24:24

    “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.” 2 Timothy 4:3,4

  24. 5-3-2011

    I think the false teachers and heresies were probably just as bad in Paul’s day as they are now….the human condition hasn’t changed. And 2 Timothy 4:3 and 4 doesn’t exclusively apply to today…I dont think Paul had Mormons in mind when he wrote to Timothy. It certainly does apply to things that are happening today, the Scriptures are for all times, thats why they are part of the canon. But I’m sure Paul was dealing with the same sort of false teachers, gnostics, those-preaching-that-we-should-sin-more-in-order-that-grace-may-abound that we are dealing with today, and he handled it with gentleness, dedication, and patience. Not to under-emphasize the urgency of the Gospel today, but the thing we’re talking about here is unity among believers (Christians), not whether Mormons are false prophets, a cult, or even Christians. (I do not believe Mormons are Christians, for the record)

    The focus here, is that Christians sometimes alienate themselves from other Christians based on secondary doctrines. The implied suggestion is that we work together to bring the Gospel to people, and not isolate ourselves based on whether we believe babies should be baptized or something. Doctrine is important…dont get me wrong….but not as important as fulfilling what Christ called us to do, make disciples.

  25. 5-3-2011

    Personally, I loved this post. We are told in the scriptures that we will be known by our love for one another, yet it seems that we are known for our devisiveness. There are so many “negotiable” issues in scripture that are not worth breaking fellowship over. Here are some of those that I would love to see worked out it unity; Calvinism vs Arminianism, infant baptism vs adult baptism, speaking of baptism, to sprinkle or dunk. There is holidays, how to celebrate them, gifts of the Spirit, end times theologies…and that is just to name a few. While I may have opinions on these, I don’t ever think it should cause me to break fellowship with a brother or sister in Christ because we disagree.
    Argh! Sorry for the long post, this happens to be a pet peeve of mine.

  26. 5-3-2011

    Hutch, are you seeing an elephant?

  27. 5-3-2011

    Jason, I don’t know what it is like in South Africa where you live, but believe me when I tell you that the apostacy that is gaining ground here and in Europe will most certainly reach there sooner or later…

    Sure, there was plenty of false teaching in the days of the Early Church, but for the most part, they actually identified it for what it was and kept it out!

    Today, the Church in America is embracing all kinds of mysticism and enumenicalism, all of which leads to the same place, because it all comes from the same, Satanic source…

    I beg everyone here to educate themselves on the true nature of the “Emerging church”, the “Purpose Driven Movement” and others. I beg you to open your eyes to what is really taking place in the name of Christ. I pray that more people would recognize that these kinds of seemingly good and biblical appeals for Christians to “come together” (which if done with discernment IS a very good thing) are more often than not simply the “bait” to pull people down a path that ultimately leads towards universalism and the teaching that all religions are “equally true”.

    You may dismiss that as being paranoid or something, and yet I found that clip from Phyllis Tickle after scanning the blog in question for a mere 20 seconds or so! (and I’m sure there’s more…) Just because your intentions might be very well and good, doesn’t make you immune to the what is actually very cunning and harmful deception… It is so cunning because it partially based on an element of truth (as all deception is…) Wake up everyone! Wake up and see that there are wolves in your very midst… Wake up!

    How can we take this stance where we caution Christians not to drop the “H-bomb” too hastily, and yet jump on bandwagons with people who don’t even have enough discernment to know that Mormonism doesn’t preach the same Jesus that we love and serve???

  28. 5-3-2011

    Daniel-

    I think the point Alan is making is that “heretic” does not mean false teacher, and that Christians use it against other Christians and divide from them over differences of opinion on secondary issues, ironically becoming the “Heretic”.

    I cannot speak for anyone here, but from the interaction and comments I’ve seen from most of the individuals on this thread over the past three years or so, I think I can confidently say they are not on a “bandwagon with people who don’t even have enough discernment to know that Mormonism doesn’t preach the same Jesus that we love and serve”.

    I’ve had private e-mail interaction with Alan and I can tell you that he does not embrace universalism or universal reconciliation two different but similar false teachings.

    Again, I think the point is the misuse of the H-word against those who are brothers and sisters in Christ dividing over something other than the Person (who He is) and Work (what He did/what He accomplished/ the gospel) of Christ.

  29. 5-3-2011

    Juanjo Gómez Serrano,

    Gracias, mi hermano.

    Beth,

    I’ve found that unity is possible (in spite of differences) when our focus is on Jesus Christ.

    Hutch and Art,

    Yes.

    Jason,

    Our brothers and sisters in Ethiopia cannot understand our divisions and continued divisiveness either.

    Daniel,

    You will be hard pressed to find any group of believers (especially a large group) in which one or more is not actually a follower of Christ. Yes, even Jude wrote long ago that false teachers would infiltrate the church. In Jude 17-23, he told his readers how to deal with that. I seek to build up the church, wait on Jesus Christ, have mercy on doubters, and save as many as possible.

    Jen,

    Yes, I think the church can and should live in unity with one another in spite of those differences. But, it will only happen when Jesus Christ is our focus.

    -Alan

  30. 5-3-2011

    Alan,
    I agree 100%! But the people who called me a goat and heretic have no interest in focusing on Jesus with me…because in their eyes I’m a goat and to quote them “there is no hope that I will ever be a sheep of God’s”! Ha. Anyway, I completely agree. I am, in fact, in unity with many believers and yet we differ on certain things but because of our mutual love for Christ and our mutual desire to walk in his ways and not ours we don’t let the differences divide us. This was a great post Alan, thanks again!

  31. 5-3-2011

    Daniel, what about those who don’t have enough discernment to recognize that division in the church is sinful?

  32. 5-4-2011

    Daniel,
    Amen to your concerns about the emergent church and things that are being done in the name of ecumenism.  When there are prominent leaders preaching a non biblical Christ we must speak up.  It is beyond me how people go out of there way to defend just about any position being promoted in the name of unity.  When a leader demonstrates there unbelief in there own words we should not be afraid to proclaim that their teachings are heretical.   Case in point Rob Bell…here are some insights from John MacArthur showing his unbelief in his own words:
    http://www.gty.org/Blog/B110418
    When someone is promoting doctrine that denies the truth revealed in scripture to such a degree as Rob and many other emergent leaders have demonstrated the H word is appropriate.
    I have never come across anyone who throws around the term heretic over the issue of baptism or not using the KJV as some people have commented here.   
    Obviously we can have discernment in non essential issues and have unity.  However when someone is promoting a Jesus that is different than the one clearly revealed in scripture they are guilty of idolatry and we should fight for our faith.  These leaders are deceiving many and need to be challenged.  If we do not challenge them and clearly articulate why their teachings are heretical we are not showing love to them or their followers.  

  33. 5-4-2011

    Beth,

    Obviously, I don’t know you. But, I believe we should always start with whether or not a person is in Christ, which is generally demonstrated by their love for other, not what they say they believe.

    Arthur,

    Yes, division in the church is sinful, and, according to Scripture, we should separate from someone who is divisive. (That’s the irony of the issue.)

    Daniel and Shawn,

    I agree that there are false teachers among God’s people. Do you also agree that God’s people are divided and splintered in a way that does not please God, and that God’s people should seek to live in unity in Christ?

    -Alan

  34. 5-4-2011

    Alan,
    Again, 100% agree! :)

  35. 5-4-2011

    Alan,

    I feel we have known each other long enough for you to know that I am definitely no fan of denominational divisions… (since I outright reject institutionalism altogether, which is basically what makes denominationalism possible in the first place!) I would contend that a huge factor in the creation and preservation of “denominational distinctives” and theological nit-picking is largely that it serves the purposes of those who are interested in creating and building their own, “pastorally-dependent” ministries… (and this is why I personally don’t even like the idea of giving any “ministry”, or church, or even “house church” so much as it’s own name, because that act alone is the beginning of the creation of an artifical boundary, an unnecessary division…)

    I believe there is ONE CHURCH, ONE BODY of Christ, and that the less we do to chop it up and put our own little stamps on it, the better…

    Do I feel people innappropriately use the “H-word” in the Body of Christ! Of course! (like I said, I’ve been on the receiving end of that one, and it’s not exactly fun…)

    BUT…

    The fact that you responded to the various points I have mentioned about the Emergent church, in relation to both this topic and Rachel Held Evans blog in general, with a vague response like “I agree that there are false teachers among God’s people“, kinda suggests to me that you really don’t think it’s something worth getting our panties in a bunch over…

    It seems quite clear that you do not perceive there to be much to be concerned about… You don’t seem to think, as I and some others do, that there is actually a massive “shift” going on, beneath the surface…

    You seem to think that simply because you do not personally believe in Universalism (and for the record I have never thought that you do…), that somehow this innoculates you from inadvertantly furthering it’s cause.

    Like Shawn pointed out, without question the number one ploy being used by the Emergent undercurrent is the appeal for “unity”. Are Christians called to be united? Of course! But you MUST recognize that is that truth that is being exploited by those who DO deny the deity of Christ, the work of the cross, the very basis of our Salvation. (listen to a sermon by Marcus J. Borg sometime, and tell me you don’t hear this from beginning to end!)

    All I’m saying is that when you write a post like this, making what would otherwise be a very valid appeal for basic Christian unity, but you make no effort to make a distinction between yourself and the Emerging/ecunmenical appeals for “Christian unity”, then like it or not, you ARE contributing to THEIR overall message… It is happening, whether we’d like to acknowledge it or not. We can’t just stand by and be content to preach the “positive stuff”, and talk about “building up the Church”, without being willing to speak the hard truths as well. We have to be willing to speak the Truth, and point out the lies…

    (but if follow the line of thinking held by Rachel Held Evans and most of the contributors on her blog, that would probably be seen as “arrogant” and “self-righteous” to call anything a lie at all! After all, nobody knows everything, so we should stop being so dogmatic and just love Jesus!)

  36. 5-4-2011

    So unless Alan specifically repudiates the “emergent” message in a call to Christian unity, his post is a de facto endorsement of whatever you seem to think the emergent message is?

    Alan, maybe you should build into the bottom of every post the various movements that you oppose so that no one will think that you are endorsing their message through silence.

  37. 5-4-2011

    The comment thread on this post seems to prove the point of the post itself.

  38. 5-4-2011

    Hi Alan, Yes of course we are to have unity with Christ.  But if a false teacher is preaching a non biblical Christ there can be no unity.  We are called to preach the word in and out of season.  Now just because there is not unity does not mean that there is not civility.  I will continue to pray for False teachers to repent and preach the true gospel.  The inevitable conclusion of Rob Bell’s view of scripture is that in the end we didn’t really need Jesus.  Jesus did not need to die on the cross in Rob Bell’s worldview since love wins in the end, and Jesus is reduced to some kind of role model instead of our saviour.  We should seek resolution and healing from these false beliefs before there can be unity in the one true Christ.  We should all be in prayer for the church, the false teachers, and the lost.    

  39. 5-4-2011

    I don’t think it is fair to label all “emergents” as non-Christ followers or heretical or anything of the sort. That would be like slapping a label on all protestants or all evangelicals. I recently read Deep Church by Jim Belcher, who I believe is a contempory of Timothy Keller. It was a great read and basically presented the arguments of both sides. He also exposed the wide spectrum of beliefs within the “emerging” church. While I don’t agree with all of them, we must find a way to stand for truth without attack. If we are bonded by Jesus then they are our brothers and sisters and we should be known by our love for one another.

  40. 5-4-2011

    Maybe I am wrong, but I am not necessarily concerned about the Rob Bell’s,Rick Warren’s, et al. I spent many years attending and working for several of the “high” profile Word of Faith preachers. Some would call them heretics. I know many love Jesus. I walked away, and don’t recommend their doctrine. I am willing to express my disagreement with only those who would cross my paths. I do not feel compelled to call them out.

    I have better things to do in this life than to chase down “heretics”. Life is too short and precious to lose sleep over and get in a hissy fit over what some doctrine a guy is preaching. I can love and influence only those in my sphere of influence.

    We wrestle not against flesh and blood…. Eph 6:12
    We do not war after the flesh… 2 Cor 10:3-4

  41. 5-6-2011

    Arthur you asked me… “So unless Alan specifically repudiates the “emergent” message in a call to Christian unity, his post is a de facto endorsement of whatever you seem to think the emergent message is?

    No Arthur, that is not what I’m saying…. I was refering to the fact that Alan’s post on Christian unity was in direction connection to the “Rally to Restore Unity” blog series… So it’s really not like I’m just jumping on him because he chose to write his own post about his own concepts of Christian unity…

    Jack, you said, “Life is too short and precious to lose sleep over and get in a hissy fit over what some doctrine a guy is preaching. I can love and influence only those in my sphere of influence”

    I would agree with at least one portion of what you said, in that “life is too short”. It’s unbelieveably short, and after it ends, we face eternity…

    Personally, I do “lose sleep” over the fact that there are people preaching in the name of Christ, and teaching people that there is no such thing as hell, and that it the end “Love Wins”, etc…. If you don’t think it’s something to be bothered by, then I could only conclude that either A) You don’t really have an issue with people teaching things like the non-existence of a literal hell, or B) You do not grasp just how widespread and mainstream teachings like Bell’s and such are rapidly becoming…

    Jen, if you know of a way to call out lies for they are, in a manner that will ensure you will not be accused of “attacking” the person teaching those lies, then I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on that…

    You are very right that we are not wrestling against flesh and blood, because ultimately the “false teachers” are not the originators of False Gospels, they are only the human mouthpieces, and I pray for all of them that they would see their error and be brought back to Christ… I do realize that the term “Emergent” encompasses a broad spectrum of perspectives and teachings, but at the same time, there are very discernable consistencies underneath it all, all of which lead people away from simply listening to the clear Word of God, and to relying on our own reasoning, experience or cultural norms instead…

    The bottom line is that Jesus said, “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.

    “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn

    “‘a man against his father,
    a daughter against her mother,
    a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—
    a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’

    “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it

  42. 5-7-2011

    I’m a regular reader on Jeremy’s blog,first time I’m reading yours.As a south African woman when I read the american blogs I see a lot of arguments amongst believers used mainly with scripture to prove their viewpoint.Is this not a waste of time seeing that there is a lot of error in the translation of scripture as we know it today?Also to my fellow S.African.In my opinion the white,western,christian concept of God does more damage than show people who messiah is.thanx for reading…

  43. 5-7-2011

    Mands81,
    Totally agree with you. Meant to clarify this earlier. I’m not a native South African. I’m an American serving here for a year or so. Which I think strengthens your argument.
    Daniel,
    I’m from the US, I’ve only been in ZA for three months, I have a pretty good idea how popular the Emergent Church is in the states. I know people who are part of the EC who I would most definitely call Christians, and it is unfair to generalize. Yes, the universalist, relativistic ideals present in much of what Bell and others of the EC preach are harmful to Christianity, they dilute the truth. But that is not the argument here. That is an entirely different debate. Alan wrote this most likely with his own context in mind, which means that he wasn’t referring to unifying the EC and the SBC (for instance) at the sake of doctrine. That’s not what we’re talking about. Obviously none of the people commenting here would associate (theologically speaking) with someone who doesn’t believe Jesus died for their sins, but would love them and try to show them the truth. Don’t be that guy man. Nobody is trying to argue that we should all just be happy and get along and completely disregard doctrine.

  44. 5-7-2011

    Mands81. Could you elaborate a little on what you mean about there being a lot of errors in the translation of the scriptures? We have a perfect God and He can easily preserve His word through the ages. I don’t know of any errors in the scriptures that would make us doubt the clearly discernable meanings. Could you give an example or suggest a resource on how you came to that conclusion. Thanks

  45. 5-7-2011

    Shawn,

    Every translation is a work of people and is therefore flawed. Any statement I’ve ever read about the inerrancy of Scripture refers to the originals, not to translations.

    -Alan

  46. 5-7-2011

    I understand that Allen and because of the innerancy of the originals that our translations are based on I feel confident that we can trust most translations do not contain any mistakes significant enough for us to be concerned about having problems understanding it.

  47. 5-7-2011

    Shawn,

    Yes, I believe most English translations are trustworthy as well for the most part. I do believe, however, that there are some problematic passages in almost any translation. The good thing is that God does not leave us at the whims of translators. We have the Holy Spirit as well.

    -Alan

  48. 5-8-2011

    Daniel, I don’t know if I have an issue with Rob Bell et al. I don’t know him, I have never read him or heard him speak. Anything I have ever heard is only hearsay. I can’t act on that. It serves me or no one else to have an issue with him. My call is to love and serve those around me. In service is where we have influence.

    I don’t with knowledge, know anyone that claims to be emergent, so maybe I am ignorant of it’s influence in the church. But I am with Alan on this. There is way too much finger pointing and heretic hunting in the body of Christ today. I have been guilty of that in my younger days and just don’t have the energy to focus on things like that. If you are a young man, maybe that is something you need to do. But it’s not worth losing sleep over. Trust me. I’ve been there. Blessings, :)

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