Posts Tagged ‘doctrine’

Heresy Hunter: A Case Study, Part 1

August 9th, 2010

Last week, I talked about the heresy hunter and made a case for evaluating information on the basis of truth–but doing it with a humble heart, recognizing the finiteness of our human knowledge compared to God’s infinite wisdom.

I think a lot of people would be with me on this one. They agree that there is an objective standard of truth and that we should evaluate information based on truth. Few people have a problem with me personally evaluating what I hear and deciding to either accept or reject it on the basis of some objective standard of truth.

But what if I tell someone else that what they’ve heard or are believing is false?

What if I say that the concept of God’s love that they obtained from reading The Shack is false? The Shack espouses universalism, the idea that God’s love means that all people will be saved. This concept is clearly unscriptural, as it denies the necessity of Christ as a mediator of the New Covenant (In John 14:6 Jesus states that “No one comes to the Father except through Me.”), the wrath of God towards sin and sinners (Romans 2:5-9 states that those who obey unrighteousness are “treasuring up for yourself wrath”), and the existence of eternal damnation (Hebrews 6:2 places eternal judgment among the foundational principles of the faith).

I know of many people who say they were “touched” by The Shack. Others came away from reading The Shack with a “different view of God.” Perhaps they were touched, perhaps they did come away with a different view of God. And truly, The Shack presents a different view of God than that presented in the Bible. But the view The Shack presents of God is patently false.

Here, a lot more people are inclined to label me as judgmental. How dare you say that this isn’t true! It feels true to me. How dare you say otherwise! Are you saying that my feelings don’t matter?

I’m not saying that your feelings don’t matter. But regardless of your feelings, truth is truth. Your feelings are not a measure of truth. Scripture is a measure of truth. So even if you “feel good” about the view of God presented in The Shack, that view is still wrong.

This is where things start getting difficult for me. What should I do when someone says something that is unbiblical? What should I do when I recognize that someone else holds a false belief about God or about truth or whatever? How should I respond?

I’ve evaluated that teaching or belief and determined that it’s unbiblical. But how do I go about pointing that out to another person? Should I point that out to the other person?

II Timothy 3:16 states that Scripture is “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” One of the roles of Scripture is to reprove and correct. And Scripture talks of the role that believers play in correcting their fellow believers:

“Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.”
~James 5:19-20

“And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.”
~II Timothy 2:24-26

The correction of other believers is one means God uses to work repentance, rescue, and salvation.

Okay, but how am I to deal with the rest of Scripture, which makes clear that I am not to judge? How am I to correct without judging?

Check back tomorrow to hear my conclusions to this case study, including cautions for the “corrector” and suggestions for different ways a “corrector” might approach this particular case.

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