I’ve been blessed by my church’s leadership to teach a Sunday School class over the last eight weeks regarding modern day heresies in which we examined five heresies being promulgated in 21st century American churches. It’s been a huge blessing to me as I’ve prepared the material and several people have spoken to me about their encouragement from being in the class, so I am going to post the notes with some additional content here. It is my prayer that you would learn from it, and that Jesus would use it as he sees fit.
Original Class Date: 3 March 2013
Disclaimer: This content may offend some of you and would offend many outside of the Church. It is not my intention to purposely offend, but the truth of the Gospel, as good and glorious as it is, is ultimately offensive to those who do not agree and repent.
We are living in an era when tolerance (syn. acceptance) is praised and glorified and righteous discernment (syn. judgement) is heavily criticized. The people of God are being pulled in many directions by the world’s system and without a foundation of biblical doctrine we will be swept away with the torrents of secular society.
- To define heresy; what it is and what it’s not
- To examine some of the heretical teachings plaguing Christianity today
- To identify the ways we can stand fast in the truth and minister to those who hold to these heretical teachings
Webster’s Oxford defines heresy as unorthodox opinion or religious belief belief or opinion contrary to orthodox religious doctrine. The word comes from the Greek hairesis meaning the choice or choosing. When considering heresy we need to understand both what heresy is and what it’s not.
Heresy is the active and ongoing adherence to or proclamation of a false doctrine in spite of the truth of Scripture. True heretics are those who claim the name of Christ yet live a life or preach a gospel in antithesis to that of the Bible even after godly correction has occurred. This includes rebellious believers and cult members such as the United Church of Christ, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Latter Day Saints (aka Mormons), Catholic syncretism, etc.
Heresy is NOT the denial of faith. Non-Christians are not heretics, they are non-believers. Likewise, new converts and young Christians, most cultural Christians, and heretics-by-means-of-ignorance are not true heretics. This understanding is vital to understanding the context of this discussion.
The Importance of Scripture
The problem of heresy, I believe, comes from a low view of Scripture and a serious pride issue. The Bible is the bottom line by which we judge everything. It is the inerrant Word of God.
“…knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” -2 Peter 1:20b-21 ESV
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” -2 Timothy 3:16 ESV
“As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the Lord is flawless.” -2 Samuel 22:31a NIV
“And the words of the Lord are flawless, like silver refined in a furnace of clay, purified seven times.” -Psalm 12:6 NIV
Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words, or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar.” -Proverbs 30:5-6 NIV
Understanding this truth, if we disagree with what God the Holy Spirit has revealed to us in the pages of Scripture, we are wrong and need to repent. Many believers today struggle with this because of our western, pluralist mindset.
Sources Definition of heresy in oxford dictionaries. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://oxforddictionaries.com /us/definition/american_english/heresy