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Add Ons

Augmenting Scripture
With Diverse and Strange Doctrines

Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines.
For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace;
not with meats,
which have not profited them that have been occupied therein.
We have an altar,
whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle.

(Hebrews 13:9-10)
That we henceforth be no more children,
tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine,
by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness,
whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things,
which is the head, even Christ:

(Eph. 4:14-15)

It is an age-old deception. Adding to the Scripture is one of the easiest ways to deceive believers. Why? Because error is cleverly brought in as “new information” that it is claimed will “illuminate” the Word and enrich the life of a believer. Sola Scriptura is being challenged by many new modes of augmentation. Adding to Scripture with supplemental “diverse and strange doctrines” is a form of heresy.

Today’s evangelical leaders are adding to Scripture in every possible way. The rush is on! Things that would have been considered unimaginable even ten short years ago are rapidly being incorporated into the Christian faith. The Bible plus. Adding to Scripture is a popular pastime, very lucrative, and exciting to the senses, particularly as it pertains to speculating about biblical prophecy, envisioning new revelation, or attaining deeper levels of spirituality. But what did the early reformers think about adding to Scripture? And what does the Bible have to say about it? Today’s post takes a look at Matthew Poole’s 1600s Bible Commentary* on the verses above.

Added to the Gospel”
According to Matthew Poole, “diverse and strange doctrines” are things that add to the Gospel in Scripture:

“Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines“: the doctrine of Christ being immutable, it is but necessary to dehort [dissuade, ed.] His subjects from deserting it, which the apostle doth here; that they should not be wheeling or whirling about with an unstable and inconstant motion of judgment, faith, and practice, about such human doctrines which are vain rules to lead to God, such as are different in nature from Christ, one and the same rule, and those very numerous and various, strange and untrue, taught by false apostles and teachers, taken out of Gentilism and Judaism, and added to the Gospel by them, as necessary, together with Christ, to justification and salvation. [bold added]

The Gospel is being added to by those claiming that their new information is necessary, “together with Christ,” as supplementary material that enriches and enhances the plain doctrine of Jesus Christ. The following Scriptures are among those cited by Poole as evidence that believers should exercise caution lest they “carried about,” “corrupted” or “beguiled” by these added-on “diverse and strange doctrines,” i.e. heresy:

But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve
through his subtilty, so your minds
should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.

(2 Cor. 11:3)
Now the Spirit speaketh expressly,
that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith,
giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;
Speaking lies in hypocrisy;
having their conscience seared with a hot iron;…
But refuse profane and old wives’ fables,
and exercise thyself rather unto godliness.
(1 Timothy 5: 1,2,7)
But there were false prophets also among the people,
even as there shall be false teachers among you,
who privily shall bring in damnable heresies,
even denying the Lord that bought them,
and bring upon themselves swift destruction.
And many shall follow their pernicious ways;
by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.

(2 Peter 2:1-2)

Have you noticed? These verses, and others like them, are seldom taught in churches anymore. There is a carefree, even careless and lax attitude about warnings regarding “diverse and strange doctrines.”  Many evangelicals think they can handle the adding-on of extra-biblical material and still stay sound in the faith. Some flatter themselves that they are immune to heresy. Others seem to think that the modern-day church is perfecting to the point where it doesn’t need to be concerned about heresy anymore. Their focus has shifted to all of the exciting methods being brought into the church world, or the “new” revelations being unearthed, or the rapidly changing global or cosmic events happening. This flood of information substantially alters how the Bible is viewed. The Bible is deemed insufficient and must be augmented with data pouring in from all sorts of spurious sources.

However, Scripture is true and it doesn’t change. It warns believers that they can be “beguiled,” “corrupted,” and “tossed to and fro.” It warns believers they are susceptible to the “sleight of men,” and can be seduced and “deceived” by “cunning craftiness.”

In Ephesians 4:14-15 the Apostle Paul uses the word “children.” This is referring to those who are weak, immature or unstable in the faith. These tender ones are most susceptible to being “tossed to and fro” when Scripture is added-onto with enticing allurements. They are most apt to be “carried about with every wind of doctrine.” They are easier to manipulate by “sleight of hand” or “cunning craftiness.” Matthew Poole, commenting on the phrase “whereby they lie in wait to deceive,” points out:

ambush; the word here used, is translated wiles (Eph. 6:11), against which the apostle would have them fenced with “the whole armour of God,” and seems to signify a laying in ambush, or assaulting a man behind his back; a secret and unseen way of circumventing, a laying wait to draw them that are weak from the truth.

In our era of pervasive Humanism, where evangelicals now believe that human beings are basically good at heart, it is hard to grasp this sober scriptural warning. No one seems worried about being spiritually ambushed. But this is what Scripture says, and unfortunately we hear many examples of shepherds fleecing and abusing sheep — their own flock as well as the sheep of other shepherds. Popular leaders sell their add-on wares in the great evangelical marketplace. They have thrilling new books, exciting new programs, arousing new theologies, provocative new revelations, unveiled new secrets, decoded new mysteries, stimulating new understandings, etc. There is great profit to be had by ambushing immature sheep with their own ***exclusive*** add-ons to Scripture.

“PUFFED UP” with “A SHEW OF WISDOM”
There is a specific danger of adding to God’s Word with “diverse and strange doctrines.” Believers are prone to becoming “vainly puffed up” with a “shew of wisdom.” Matthew Poole explained this phrase in Hebrews, and cited additional verses to make this point:

“Not with meats”: doctrines of meats and ceremonies, which are divers, and strange from Christ’s cannot make the heart agreeable to God, but only distract and divide it from Him; for whoever is not in and from Christ, is strange to God, and abhorred by Him…

Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility
and worshipping of angels,
intruding into those things which he hath not seen,
vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,…
Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship,
and humility, and neglecting of the body;
not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.
(Col. 2:18, 22)
But shun profane and vain babblings:
for they will increase unto more ungodliness.
And their word will eat as doth a canker:
(2 Tim. 2:16-17a)
A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.
(James 1:8)

“Meats” here refers to adding-on requirements to the faith that “beguile” believers into feeling they need to do more spiritually. It can lead to a “puffed up” feeling of elitism, especially when a believer feels he is privy to exclusive new information that is superior to to the old outmoded plain Bible teaching. There is a temptation to make “a shew of wisdom in will worship.” Indeed, there is a mad scramble in the evangelical world today to try to out-do one another in being hip (“puffed up”) by jumping into any new-fangled, spiritual-sounding thing. No need to exercise discernment; everyone’s doing it so it must be okay, right? As long as it is “spiritual” it must be Christian, right?  

Following “divers and strange doctrines” eventually ends up in some sort of legalism, which is why the writer of Hebrews stated “not with meats” in the context of discussing “diverse and strange doctrines.” Adding-to Scripture may not seem like legalism on its surface, but a believer soon discovers that additional teachings come equipped with additional requirements. There is a point when a believer may begin to notice an unsettled “carried about” or “tossed to and fro” feeling. How much energy is spent engaged in the added-on commitments of time, talents and money! “Diverse and strange doctrines” are man-made add-ons that promise believers a heightened spirituality, greater insights, the acclamations of man, and even prosperity if believers do certain things. Following the latest blog postings, book publishings, conferences and spiritual-sounding pronouncements of the leaders who are busily adding-on to Scripture can be a full-time job! But at what cost to one’s faith?

Note: If a leader is charging money to divulge “new” secrets or “hidden” revelations, save yourself the money and hassle. Don’t buy it! The plain Gospel of Salvation is FREE, sufficient and open to all!

Matthew Poole warned that we will reap no true spiritual benefit from adding-on strange doctrines and practicing them, in his comments on the phrase “which have not profited them”:

“which have not profited them that have been occupied therein”: those who did converse in these various and strange doctrines, professing and constantly practising them, observed times, and meats, and ceremonies, have not been profited by them; for being carnal and earthly, they could not justify them as to their state God-ward, nor could they renew or sanctify their souls, nor yield any advantage to their spiritual life; and being perishing could not profit to the attaining of eternal life…

Adding-On: Another Altar
False altars are associated with idolatry in Scripture. The fact that the writer of Hebrews mentions an “altar” in the context of “diverse and strange doctrines” is noteworthy. Adding-on to Scripture is a form of idolatry, a strange altar with strange fire. The writer of Hebrews reminds us that we have an altar, which is Jesus Christ. Matthew Poole commented:

“We have an altar”: these strange doctrines are not only unprofitable, but perilous to Christians, since they disinterest all that entertain them, as to any participation of Christ; since His subjects, adhering to His simple and immutable doctrine, have a right and just claim to, and an actual use of, Christ, as their altar, in opposition to the Mosaical; and from whom they have altar sustenance for their souls, in opposition to the Jewish meats, while they attend on Him; all the quickening benefits issuing from the sacrifice of His human nature on the altar of His God-head, as reconciliation and adoption to God, justification and perseverance therein, to the perfecting of it in glory…. We have altar sanctification of our persons and offerings in our access to God from Him…. God had but one altar under the law, and He prohibited all others, and complained of and threatened the increase of them…

By Him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually,
that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name.
(Hebrews 13:15)

Matthew Henry in his 1700s Commentary on this same verse agreed, and made the point this altar is Jesus. Any other altar, with “diverse and strange doctrines” is not the Gospel of Jesus Christ:

The Christian church has its altar. It was objected against the primitive Christians that their assemblies were destitute of an altar; but this was not true. We have an altar, not a material altar, but a personal one, and that is Christ; He is both our altar, and our sacrifice; He sanctifies the gift.

Because Ephraim hath made many altars to sin,
altars shall be unto him to sin.

(Hos. 8:11) 
Israel is an empty vine, he bringeth forth fruit unto himself:
according to the multitude of his fruit he hath increased the altars;
according to the goodness of his land they have made goodly images.
Their heart is divided; now shall they be found faulty:
He shall break down their altars, He shall spoil their images.
(Hosea 10:1-2)

Those who add on to Scripture, who dally at fascinating foreign altars, will soon find their heart is divided, as it states above. And the Lord Jesus Christ warned that “No servant can serve two masters.” We cannot serve both “God and mammon.” (Matt. 6:24; Luke 16:16) The cognitive dissonance of a divided heart ultimately results in the bad fruit of a seared conscience. And those who look for truth at the pagan altars of “diverse and strange doctrines” will not find it.

Profane ADD-ONS
Diverse and strange doctrines are “profane,” i.e. “unholy.” New teachings don’t usually come into the church in flaming colors proclaiming they are a new heresy! Rather, most heresies come in as subtle additions, challenging ideas, new thoughts to consider, speculations, etc. Add-ons can come from such scholarly sources as “scientific revelations.” Most originate from pagan sources! But Scripture takes a dim view of these “profane” teachings, likening them to “fables” and “vain babblings”:

But refuse profane and old wives’ fables,
and exercise thyself rather unto godliness.
(1 Tim. 1:9)
O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust,
avoiding profane and vain babblings,
and oppositions of science falsely so called:
(1 Tim. 6:20)
But shun profane and vain babblings:
for they will increase unto more ungodliness.

(2 Tim. 2:16)
Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God;
lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you,
and thereby many be defiled;
Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person,
as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright.

(Hebrews 12:15-16)

Note that it says that “profane and vain babblings” will “increase unto more ungodliness.” There is a tendency for profane teachings to spread like leaven, corrupting believers and then entire churches. Hebrews 12:15-16 refers to Esau as a “profane person,” and Matthew Poole noticed how the “root of bitterness” acts like leaven in increasing profanity:

the springing up and growing of errors, heresies, or immoralities, as profaneness, filthiness, etc., which are apt to infect churches, and as they spread, to molest, trouble, and disturb them, and to keep them from pursuing holiness.

“thereby many be defiled”: lest by but one such poisonous root, a whole church of Christians may be infected and poisoned, their sin being as apt to spread and diffuse itself as leaven, 1 Cor. 5:6, to taint the whole lump, Gal. 5:9; and how early, even in the apostles’ time, for want of obeying this caution, were the primitive churches corrupted, both in doctrine and morals, by loose, filthy heretics among them!

Pursuing “diverse and strange doctrines” will only “increase unto more ungodliness.” There is a very real defilement that takes place when anyone begins to search into occult and pagan mysteries to try to glean truth. Those who take this route find that it becomes a never-ending spiral of “new truths,” each new nugget more intoxicating. Believers will soon discover themselves lost and wandering on dark paths with no end. These are dangerous paths that do not fulfill, and do not lead to the Cross of Jesus Christ.

BE ESTABLISHED & STEADFAST
Believers, lost and unsteady in their faith, can repent and return to a sole dependence on God’s Word for sustenance, spiritual edifying and strengthening. A symptom of losing one’s moorings on Scripture can be the actual feeling of being “carried about” and “tossed to and fro.” What is the remedy for this? Matthew Poole asserts that only the mercy of God’s grace can make our hearts steadfast and established on the “simple doctrine of Christ,” which gives us a solid foundation of maturity:

“For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace”: for the goodness of heart-establishment unto God is no less than full and complete salvation of the soul…. And this is only wrought by grace, the free love of God put out in Christ, for regeneration and preservation of souls unto life eternal, carried in the simple doctrine of Christ, which is always the same,

Therefore, my beloved brethren,
be ye stedfast, unmoveable,
always abounding in the work of the Lord,
forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

(1 Cor. 15:15)
Ye therefore, beloved,
seeing ye know these things before,
beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked,
fall from your own stedfastness.
But grow in grace,
and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.

(2 Peter 3:17-18)
Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself,
and God, even our Father, which hath loved us,
and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace,
Comfort your hearts,
and stablish you in every good word and work.

(2 Thess. 2: 16-17)
But the God of all grace,
who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus,
after that ye have suffered a while,
make you perfect, stablish,
strengthen, settle you.

(1 Peter 5:10)

*All quotations taken and adapted for blog posting from A Commentary on the Holy Bible, Volume III, Matthew-Revelation, by Matthew Poole (Hendrickson Publishers). All bold and emphases added.

SOURCE 

Ancient-Future Heresies

Let’s both reason from the Scriptures, and simply be reasonable (Isaiah 1:18). The Ancient-Future search to discover gems from “Classic Christianity” comes up short by a century — the century in which the New Testament was written. The critical difference should be obvious. The writers of the New Testament were inspired by the Holy Spirit as they penned God’s Word (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:21, 22). What writings from A.D. 100 and later can claim such inspiration? None. But we’re told that some were disciples of or lived at the time of the apostles. True, but proximity to the apostles is hardly a guarantee against heresy, nor does it come close to inspiration. Furthermore, much of the first-century-written New Testament reproved and corrected errors that had already entered the church!

Remember the Apostle Paul’s warning to the Ephesian elders, who were certainly closer to Paul than any of the so-called Church Fathers:

“Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears” (Acts 20:28-31).

Again, why this attraction to the ancient Church Fathers? Could any of them say with Paul, “Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you” (Philippians 4:9)? We can trust his God-breathed words completely. On the other hand, it takes very little scrutiny of men like Origen, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, Cyprian, Justin Martyr, Athanasius, John Chrysostom, Cyril of Jerusalem, Augustine, and others, to see their flaws, let alone their heresies. For example, Origen taught that God would save everyone and that Mary was a perpetual virgin; Irenaeus believed that the bread and wine became the body and blood of Jesus when consecrated, as did John Chrysostom and Cyril of Jerusalem; Athanasius taught salvation through baptism; Tertullian became a supporter of the Montanist heresies, and a promoter of a New Testament clergy class, as did his disciple Cyprian; Augustine was the principal architect of Catholic dogma that included his support of purgatory, baptismal regeneration, and infant baptism, mortal and venial sins, prayers to the dead, penance for sins, absolution from a priest, the sinlessness of Mary, the Apocrypha as Scripture, etc. 

It’s not that these men got everything wrong; some, on certain doctrines, upheld Scripture against the developing unbiblical dogmas of the Roman Catholic Church. 

Nevertheless, overall they are a heretical minefield. So why seek them out?

http://www.thebereancall.org/node/6535

 

*UPDATE*

check out Paul’s new blog

http://iftruthbeknown.wordpress.com/

War on the Saints

Never since the days of the Reformation has there been such pressure upon the true body of Christ. No longer can a man even speak of being a Christian without making some form of doctrinal clarification to define what he means. Protestant Christianity is in an absolute upheaval as the majority of the prominent leaders claiming to represent the true Christian church tend to be liars, cheats or teachers of dubious doctrine.

The Bible itself as God’s infallible Word is bombarded daily by false accusations questioning its credibility, authenticity, accuracy and recently its clarity. ( The argument is that the scripture may be God’s word but who can truly understand what it is saying??)

The Deity of Christ is questioned and rejected in many sectors. The virgin birth of Christ is scoffed at. The doctrine of hell is no longer taught by those embarrassed at its reality. Many reject it altogether. Men claiming to be the restored apostles and prophets are now a dime a dozen and the heretical nonsense that they spew out is not worth a dime. Sin is rarely mentioned and error of judgement is the preferred condition of man before the Holy God. Man has become elevated to the lofty position of lord of the earth and the One enthroned in heaven can do little without the interaction and partnership of his church. The Lord God Almighty can now be addressed as Allah. Many call God Papa or Daddy and their familiarity with the Almighty has bred the inevitable contempt towards His terrifying holiness. Music that stirs the emotions has replaced the actual presence of God by his Holy Spirit. Man for all intents and purposes has been deified for almost every sermon is geared towards how man can become more blessed. Preachers have forsaken the scriptures and become personal coaches using the modern pop psychology of self improvement. The unity of heretical doctrines under the banner of a new age Jesus is the One untouchable golden Cow in today’s modern apostate church. The Pentecostal and charismatic’s have immersed themselves with the New Age movement. The Holy Spirit has been replaced by a deceiving spirit for the most part and very few cry foul!

Many traditional denominations have blessed same sex unions and so have blessed what God deems an abomination. Lev 20:13 If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.

Worse in my opinion are the traditional denominations that have remained silent and not delivered a clarion call concerning the righteousness of God and the sanctity of the church. These cowards do more damage in the long run as they string along many misguided saints who are not ready to break fellowship with their traditional church as long as they do not directly approve of what is evil. The fruit of this is an ineffective witness and a snail paced apostasy.

Cowardly pastors should not be in the pulpits today. May the God of scripture judge them for they have done more damage by their people pleasing, world loving silence than the legions of hell who have been unleashed upon the saints.

Papal Rome has all but conquered the reformation. Protestantism has been sold out by such traitors as the Billy Graham association and Chuck Colson’s Evangelicals and Catholics together organisation. Some of the evangelical signatories of that abomination included Bill Bright of Campus Crusade for Christ, Os Guinness of the Trinity Forum, Richard Mouw of Fuller theological Seminary , Mark Noll of Wheaton College , Jim Packer of Regent College, Pat Robertson of Larry Lewis of the Home Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, Richard Land of the Christian Life Commission, Jesse Miranda of the Assemblies of God, and John White of Geneva College.

Somewhere between Vatican Two ( 1962 ) and 1994 these so called Christian leaders must have concluded that Rome preaches a gospel of salvation for they agreed that they would cease to attempt to convert the Roman catholic faithful to the true religion of biblical Christianity. They in essence helped seal the fate of the hundreds of millions of Catholics by refusing to preach the truth to them.

In a nutshell the church is at rock bottom. All that can get worse will be the increasing measure of the evil mentioned above. I ought to be weeping but an ugly spin off that the scripture mentions is that the love in my heart has grown cold.

Matthew 24:12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. May the Lord soften my own angry heart so that I might pray for the saints rather than prey upon them.

What then can be done or what will the end of this be? Surely the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is one of hope. Where sin abounds grace also abounds, so says the apostle Paul.

Rom 5:20 Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:

There is an abundance of grace for the Saint who grieves at the church’s current state. The rejection, isolation, separation misunderstanding and accusations that become our daily bread are in essence our crown in glory. We are sharing in the sufferings of Christ. As the writer to the Hebrews has well put  it.

Hebrews 13:12 -14 Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. 13 Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach. 14 For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.

The Lord Jesus suffered outside the camp and this needs to be our current estate while within the camp apostasy abounds. We in our rejection and isolation are in good company. Currently our pain is the payment for our eternal crown. One that some day by God’s grace we can lay at the feet of our saviour when we see him in his glory. We ought to be rejoicing for we have been found worthy of suffering for His names sake.

It is possible that once again the Lord may decree a final reformation of biblical orthodoxy but if he chooses not to then things will certainly get worse. When Elijah thought that he alone stood against the spiritual whorings of Israel, the Lord informed Him that seven thousand had not bowed the knee to, or kissed the hand of Baal. Biblical Christian you are not alone! Elisha’s servant thought so when the city of Dothan was surrounded. He was wrong!

2 Kings 6:15-17 And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do? 16 And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. 17 And Elisha prayed, and said, LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.

Whatever the future unfolds we must pray for grace to persevere and be a bold witness regardless of the cost. These are days in which the true saints of God will shine like the stars in the universe. The current evil around us is actually making the mediocre flicker of our candle shine like a lighthouse on a moonless night.

There is indeed war being waged against the saints but tell me friend when has there ever not been? As the Psalmist says:

Psalm 149: 5-9 Let the saints be joyful in glory: let them sing aloud upon their beds. 6 Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a twoedged sword in their hand; 7 To execute vengeance upon the heathen, and punishments upon the people; 8 To bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron; 9 To execute upon them the judgment written: this honour have all his saints. Praise ye the LORD.

Have no fear Christian, we win in the end.

by Paul Gowdy

Printed by permission.

I first heard this comment or one similar some time ago.  I had just taught a lesson in Bible Study in Matthew 13 about the parable of the yeast. With this bible teaching fresh in my mind, the idea of being able to extract truth from false doctrine, rang the alarm bell.

kim

“CHEW THE MEAT;
SPIT OUT THE BONES….”

Lynn & Sarah Leslie

 

We were astonished when we first heard this statement. In all of our 50-plus years we had never encountered this phrase before. It immediately conjured up graphic images of sharp teeth roughly biting off and devouring a tough piece of meat, and rudely spewing out pieces of bone. Surely there were better table manners than this!

 

We first heard this retort when we had expressed a concern about a curriculum. Ostensibly this curriculum was a book that would embody the teachings of our local church, and it was written by a man highly esteemed and respected – a man who held many positions of leadership in parachurch groups. Yet embedded throughout his curriculum were heresies. We worried that teaching these heresies could adversely affect families in our church.

 

Like most material in the evangelical world today, this particular curriculum didn’t teach flagrant and obvious heresies. Rather, it subtly introduced new terms, new understandings, and new ways of thinking about traditional biblical concepts. When we read the curriculum we immediately recognized that it had integrated the teachings of an evangelical leader who is noted for his controversial teachings and cult-like practices. When we looked in the bibliography, sure enough, we found references to this leader – and worse! The writer was clearly influenced by these outside teachings and importing them into our group.

 

But “chew the meat, spit out the bones”? We were being told that this is the method by which the church members should read this man’s book. Where did this phrase originate and how did it become a catchphrase that so easily dismisses concerns about biblical error? A quick Internet search does not reveal the origination of this expression. But it always seems to be used in the context of justifying the inclusion of error in otherwise biblical-sounding teachings.

 

Is chewing meat and spitting out the bones a sensible plan for eating meat in everyday life? Is it a biblical concept? We’ll get to the answers later…. First, let us look at how truth gets mixed with error.

 

The Off-Center Bullseye

 

One analogy that helps to visualize the trouble with slightly off-base teachings is the shooting of an arrow at a target. A bullseye is in the center of a target. It seems like some leaders purposefully aim their arrows just a little bit off to the side of the bullseye. What they are teaching isn’t quite biblical truth. It contains just a tiny glimmer of untruth, a somewhat off-kilter idea, or a novel interpretation of Scripture that runs a little askew of traditional doctrine. Most of these little “off” statements go unchallenged, as we would like to give the writer or speaker the benefit of the doubt. It could be that we just misunderstood.

 

But if the slightly off-target statement is repeated, included throughout, or a foundational error, it becomes a matter of doctrinal concern. Below we explain why it is so subtle and hard to identify at first:

 

TRUTH (THESIS) . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . ANTITHESIS

\                   /

SYNTHESIS

 

Here is what happens: The opposite of Truth (Thesis) is Anti-Truth (Antithesis). A small-appearing lie forms in opposition to the Truth of God’s Word (1 Tim. 6:20). To create a Synthesis, this initial lie must be accepted instead of rejected. To justify the error, man will attempt to merge it into biblical Truth. It usually feels like just a tiny compromise, no big deal. What results, however, is a new “truth” – a synthesized “truth” in which a bit of error has been mixed in. This process is called dialectics; it has been around ever since Adam and Eve succumbed to Satan’s temptation in the Garden of Eden.

 

Once a Synthesis is established, more syntheses can come about by adding in a New Antithesis to the Synthesis. This creates a New Synthesis, which is even further from the original Truth. It works like this:

NEW TRUTH (SYNTHESIS). . . . . . . . . . . . . . ANTITHESIS

\                    /

NEW SYNTHESIS

 

The sequential process of adding Antithesis to truth, and creating new Syntheses can go on and on to create progressive “new revelation.” After a while, the original Truth becomes lost. In fact, we sometimes get letters at Discernment Ministries from people who believe we are seriously deluded because we hold to the old biblical Truth. They have only been taught the New Truth (Synthesis) to the point where it is a total Antithesis to the Gospel of Salvation. They believe their false gospel is the true Gospel and that we are the ones who are deceived.

 

Chewing Meat With the Bones Still In It

 

How does this Synthesis process happen to the local church today? Very cleverly, deceptively and subtly. New doctrines, practices, and concepts are “sold” to the church as a promising new way to build the kingdom of God, reach the lost, attain personal satisfaction in your Christian life, reach a higher level of spirituality, engage in a deeper walk, acquire psychological health, and even grow in prosperity!

 

The “sales” routine appeals to the five senses. Here is how it goes: You will “feel” better if you adopt this new theology. It will “meet your needs.” There is an easier way, a bypass that will save you that uncomfortable conviction of heart and dying to self. In fact, the old Truth is dead tradition. It is hindering you; it stifles your self-expression. It is too rigid and restrictive. You don’t need a bunch of dry, dead formulas for dos and don’ts. You can select which theologies meet your needs and discard the ones that seem too legalistic. This teaches you to mix and match doctrines. You can create your own Synthesis to establish your own comfort zone in the faith.

 

Churches and mission groups are susceptible to this Synthesis process, too. New programs and plans promise more effectiveness through networking, partnering, coalitions, ecumenical councils, joint efforts, etc. Your group must set aside a few of its principles, convictions or beliefs. The ends will justify the means. The other groups can hold to their own beliefs, you can practice yours – this has the appearance of separation. The two of you might even find common ground through aligning your basic core beliefs. This Synthesis particularly appeals to those who are mission minded. You are promised that fewer people will be in poverty, more people will be aided, and you would heighten your evangelistic impact – if only you would overlook a few minor doctrinal discrepancies in your partner’s theology – Synthesis.

 

Many evangelical leaders today have actually been trained to publicly present solid statements of faith, but in their writings and teachings you can catch a glimmer of another gospel. This is deceptive, but the evangelical world worships its leaders. Some men are placed on pedestals, exalted to icon status. It is not unlike the fervor over rock & roll stars or Hollywood celebrities. These men are so exalted that people flock after them en masse. Their popularity serves as a measure of protection from scrutiny. Who would dare to criticize this man? If you find fault with their teachings, you quickly learn that you are not popular. We get letters daily at Discernment Ministries from people who have been told – He’s such a wonderful man! If everyone else likes him, why are you finding fault with his teachings? He might be off on a few points, but everything else seems just fine. You are just being too picky. What is the matter with you? Perhaps you are just too “fundamentalist.” You are paying too much attention to doctrine. C’mon go with the flow!

 

What’s the Matter With A Little Bit of Leaven?

 

In our modern age of Christian bookstores and media, it is outside leaven that begins to weaken good local churches at the foundation. New “truths” come in like leaven. The whole lump becomes permeated with a perverse teaching. It is very insidious. This is also Synthesis. New doctrines can be so integrated and infused throughout a book, teaching or sermon that it is difficult to separate truth from error. One sentence could contain both truth and error! Just as one cannot take yeast out of a lump of dough, one cannot easily extricate the yeast out of a leaven-saturated teaching. We have often been asked, “What is the matter with a little bit of leaven?” as if it were a harmless little annoyance which could be easily discarded.

 

Several years ago in the Fall of 2004 Sarah performed a “science” experiment for several Discernment conferences. First she tried it in our warm kitchen at home. She mixed up a small recipe of bread dough but left out the yeast. She picked out a walnut-sized lump of dough and added a tiny bit of yeast to it. She carefully set this little lump off to the side of a big bowl. On the other side of this bowl was the big lump of unleavened dough. Soon that little lump began growing. In only a few minutes it got so big that it touched the side of the big lump. Just a short while later it was pressing in on the other lump, forming it into a crescent shape. Within an hour the two lumps had begun to mingle, and by 1½ hours the two lumps were virtually indistinguishable.

 

When we tried this experiment at the first conference in Niagara Falls, a chilly air conditioner was blowing from overhead in the room. The yeasty lump just didn’t grow. So we tried it again at the Albany conference a month later. Once again, there was a chilly duct above so we took steps to try to keep the dough more protected. An hour later, although the smaller lump had grown large enough to contact the larger lump, there appeared to be no intermingling of the doughs. We thought our object lesson had failed again. But later that night when we went to dump out the bowl we were shocked to discover that underneath the surface, which had become somewhat encrusted and dry, there was a seething, bubbling mass of leavenous dough. Although it appeared to be “separate” on the top layer, underneath the leaven had thoroughly penetrated the entire lump. The Lord had given us a great object lesson!

 

Likewise, new “truths” often come into churches under the surface, sometimes hijacking a ride on a good-sounding book, idea or program. Increasingly we are hearing reports from people that even the most conservative groups are bringing in these new teachings. New “truths” have been re-packaged in their own denominational garb, piggy-backing on familiar terminologies that are given new meanings. We have even heard reports that churches that wouldn’t have gone “purpose-driven” with Rick Warren’s programs are receiving training in the exact same concepts. This, too, is intentional, deceptive Synthesis.

 

“Foreign Body in Throat”

 

At http://www.ncemi.org/cse/cse0313.htm one can read about the medical procedures that must be followed to extricate a fish or chicken bone from someone’s throat. It is not a pleasant description! The patient must endure a series of painful and intricate examinations that can cause gagging. If the bone is not located and fully extracted, pain, fever, bleeding, and breathing and swallowing difficulties will commence. The esophagus can be punctured, and bones could become embedded in the tonsils, the pharynx, and the tongue. Complicated and invasive surgical procedures are the only way to remove the bone.

 

Why, then, would anyone suggest that we can “chew the meat, spit out the bones”? Do you eat this way? No one should do this in real life! Especially, no one in their right mind would ever give a child a piece of chicken or fish with small bones in it. How cruel to even think of such a thing! So why would it ever be acceptable to give a young believer in Christ, or a youth, a book that contains heresy? Yet, daily we hear reports from concerned Christian believers that this practice is widespread in the churches.

 

Hebrews 5:11-14 explains how to eat meat in a biblical fashion. It uses a real life analogy and applies it to spiritual principles:

 

12For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. 13For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the Word of righteousness: for he is a babe. 14But strong meatbelongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

 

A baby will put anything in its mouth, both hurtful and nutritious. Similarly, a spiritual babe is unable to distinguish between sound and unsound doctrine and is more vulnerable to being “tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine”(Eph. 4:14). Solid biblical instruction is an antidote to this. But, negligence and idleness, or apathy towards the Word of God, especially by those entrusted with teaching “the Word of righteousness,” means that even longtime believers can be immature in understanding the most rudimentary doctrines. A babe in Christ is acknowledged to be “unskillful in the Word of righteousness,” but this should not be the case with “them that are of full age.” So what it the matter here?

 

Just as adults separate meat from bones before putting meat in their mouths, mature believers should be able to discriminate truth from error and separate themselves away from heretical doctrines. But many who should be mature believers by now have not exercised their spiritual senses “to discern both good and evil.” The word “exercised” is connected with the training of athletes. Christians should be well instructed, practiced, prepared and ready for a defense of the Gospel. They should be able to “rightly divide the Word of Truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). Sadly, in the evangelical world fulfilling your physical senses has supplanted the “exercise” of your spiritual “senses.”

 

Hebrews 6:1-2 goes on to say that it is important to understand the basic doctrines of the Christian faith. It is these foundational doctrines which are subtly being twisted and synthesized with new “truths.” Daily we hear reports of how churches and families are being corrupted by an influx of new “truths,” eroding the Gospel of Salvation. Unless one has had “their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” they could easily fall prey to “seducing spirits and doctrines of devils” (1 Tim. 4:1). The “Word of righteousness” offers daily assistance with the task of exercising your spiritual senses so that you are able to discern error when it comes in. You do not need to be an expert at understanding heresies. If you know the Bible, and study it intimately, you will recognize error.

 

***printed by permission***

 

At the Discernment Conference at Spring Hill, Florida, February 2007. Speaking were Lynn and Sarah Leslie, (center and right)

At the Discernment Conference at Spring Hill, Florida, February 2007. Speaking were Lynn and Sarah Leslie, (center and right)

 

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