Tuesday, August 12, 2008

In Such A Rush

I want to depart from some of my specific writing against the Lordship Salvation message and talk about the health of the Brethren. Not that this is a complete departure, I guess it's more of an inoculation against all false teaching.  

Are you in a rush to be Spiritually "mature"? You know every child is in a hurry to grow up right? Do you not sometimes pine for your youth? Growing up takes TIME. To coin a phrase spoken to me many times as I went through a long fiery trial "It's a valley you can't go around. You
must go through it." There is no shortcut to maturity. Reading books by men explaining what it means to be a Christian will not make you one. Just as reading books about devotion will not make you devoted.

I'm almost done evaluating a book by an author who USED to intimidate me. He intimidated me for all the same reasons that he is lauded by his followers - prestige, academia, reputation, endorsement, position, and authorship of more books than I've likely read. All of this coupled with the fact that I am just a layman of the Word of God, a "kid in Christ" as it were. How could I dare disagree with such a man? And even if I were to happen to be right in my disagreement how could I ever endure the thrust of his flagship apologetic on his position?

Well I'm evaluating this book and as I have recently confessed to my near Brethren I started reading with the intention of being completely forthright in that IF it were to convince me I have been in error that I would come right out and say so. I would not try to cover up my mistake, error and arrogance. To my great surprise, or more accurately my absolute astonishment this exalted man's arguments are as weak as they are wrong. I do not know how his followers have not called him on them.

This leads me back to focus on maturity and our normal rush to reach it. Here's a thought to blow the young one's mind - maturity can not be reached. A very good musician was once mentoring me. He told me that the better he got the more he was able to see of what he didn't yet
know, what he couldn't yet do. That's as close to maturity as a human being will ever get prior to Resurrection. The closer we get to Christ Jesus the more we see of our falling short. The clearer we see, the more glorious He becomes in our eyes, and so how much more impossible the Mark is to hit.

In our desperate desire to be more mature, and let's be honest here - in our desire to appear more mature than we are - we will do just about anything to attain our goal. Often this means reading the "book of the month" that we are told by friends and family has "so impacted" their
walk. We want that. It's normal. But Brethren, are we feeding at the trough of man's wisdom blindly? Not everything with the word "Jesus" written in it's title exalts God. Not everything found in the local "Christian" store is actually helpful to us.

Wisdom and maturity come from the effectual working of the Holy Spirit in the believer, as He chooses and in His time. Heb 12. And you guessed it..that can take a great bit of our time.

Here's why I'm on about all of this today. The best defense against false teachers and false doctrine is KNOWING the Word of God. I don't mean knowing "doctrine" (which is just a fancy word for some guy's teaching) I mean knowing the whole Word of God. As I have been evaluating this book I have become SO MUCH MORE THANKFUL for the desperate lonely year and a half of my life when I only had God, my bible, and my wife. The many hours spent reading and taking notes have surely paid off. How? NOW, when I read a man quote a verse and insert his own context on to it I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I can read the chapter, or chapters and see what the Word is actually saying. I know I can now. The Lord has worked that little bit of maturity into me. I trust that He really does reveal Truth (not opinion) in the Scriptures. That CONTEXT can be known, and shown - and I've also learned it can be ignored. The practice of quoting a single verse or even a few verses out of context to support a man made argument is called "proof-texting." Here is my argument, and here is the verse that proves it. That is the exact opposite of what the Student OF the Word should do. Finding validation of our argument in Scripture is called eisegesis. Having Scripture dictate our arguments is called exegesis and exegesis is what we should each aim for.

Do you know doctrines? Can you defend your position from the Word of God? That may seem good, it may even seem like you "know" the Bible. But can you read any verse in any chapter and see the context from the chapter instead of from the teaching? That's a great question, where is the "context" you're using coming from. Did the context exist before you read the rest of the chapter or did you let the chapter interpret the verse?

How do you get to this point? You read the Bible, over and over and over again. Read whole books at a time. Read a book, and then read it again, and again. Then read another book and read it again and again. And so on. IF you do this, if you take the large amount of time this takes, you will be blessed with being able to easily identify almost every false teacher and false doctrine. Because your view of the "proof-text" will not be limited to just what is shown to you by that teacher. You will have read the many parallel verses, you will have read the whole sections from which these verses are pulled.

This is the best defense against the Lordship Salvation movement, AND the Crossless Gospel movement and any other "movement"... reading the whole Bible over and over and over again. I will continue to counter false teachings specifically but my countering them will be of little value compared to your taking the time to read the whole Bible and to mature as God leads you.

If you do what I suggest you will see the false teacher's wrong usage of Scripture. And then if you study even just two Logical Fallacies you will be equipped to recognize and counter almost every false teaching you will ever encounter. Those two would be the Strawman Argument and the False Dilemma. There are many other Logical Fallacies but these two are most common in theological debates.


Kevl said...

I would love to read stories of believers who challenge their mentors. I think it's great to have mentors. Look at Timothy who was mentored by Paul. Look at the great detail that Paul supplied Timothy (and us).

If we are going to change our lives, our ministries and bring things into our home.. expose our families to them.. ought we not challenge them?

If you're impressed by a teacher and are considering adopting his position TEST IT. See if by any means you can prove his position wrong or weak when comparing it to Scripture.

One of my favorite teachers exhausts me.. Renald Showers writes incredibly "complete" books. If you are going to test his work you are going to spend a lot of time on it. But isn't it time well spent? Even this man who I have grown to trust gets no free ride with me. Each new teaching I am exposed to is tested. Because fidelity to the Word is more important than admiration.


Jonathan Perreault said...


So much good truth here! I like when you closed by saying:

"Because fidelity to the Word is more important than admiration."

When I was on campus at Moody Bible Institute I remember talking to my classmates about the dangers of Lordship salvation and other false teachings like Calvinism. Invariably, the response I heard the most went something like this:

"John MacArthur and others like him are men of esteem. They have doctorates in their field. They have studied these issues. They must be right."

While we can admire many of the accomplishments of these men, we must always go back to the Bible and ask the same basic question posed by the apostle Paul: "But what does the Scripture say?" (Gal. 4:30; cf. Rom. 4:3; 2 Pt. 3:16).


Kevl said...

Exactly JP!

Jan said...

"John MacArthur and others like him are men of esteem. They have doctorates in their field. They have studied these issues. They must be right."

That is an INCREDIBLY dangerous attitude to have. You know who else has doctorates in their fields? C. Peter Wagner, Bill Hammon, Jack Deere....