THE DOCTRINES THAT CANNOT
by Mal Couch PH.D., TH.D. and Russell L. Penney Dr. Sc.
TO DOCTRINAL ERROR IN THE CHURCH
TABLE OF CONTENTS
THE DOCTRINES THAT CANNOT BE COMPROMISED
In almost all "moral"
areas of life, compromise is the name of the game. In the secular
universities, truth is no longer seen as an absolute that can
be pursued and discovered. And certainly this applies in the fields
of philosophy and "religion." Truth is what you make
it. Right and wrong are what you perceive them to be. Situation
ethic prevails when trying to find a course of moral action. Since
each event has its own set of circumstances, there are no measuring
guidelines for certainty of moral response.
This all of course
impacts heavily on the proclamation of the Bible that there are
absolutes because there is an eternal, unchangeable Law-Giver
who does not vary in His righteous demands. In many ways the secular
universities have won in the battle for control of Western culture.
With no absolutes the Scriptures are certainly not reliable as
a source of morality or eternal truth! In fact the Bible is now
seen through the glasses of fallible humanism. The supernatural
has been removed from its pages. The prophets and apostles were
politically and mystically driven to fabricate twisted versions
of history. The only thing left at best, so the humanist say,
is a very uncertain, confused and jumbled history, void of any
authenticity and certainty.
Since the absolute
has been removed from the arena of human events, the world of
reason has been turned upside down. Right has become wrong, and
wrong has become right! From this a new humanism has emerged what
I label "Sympathetic Humanism." The sympathy now goes
to the bank robber who got shot in the leg while holding up the
bank; the homosexual who flaunts his sin before society gains
almost unlimited government assistance and support. Victim mentality
rules. No one has to muster personal responsibility or common
and self-actualization now overshadows reason. What is good for
me becomes a driving person force. There is no God to answer to.
To live fully for the now is the consuming emotion. "You
only go around once!" "Grab all the gusto!" "Life
is short. Play hard!" These and other slogans exemplify the
cultural attitude to life, existence and yes, even to the lack
of an eternity!
Thirty years ago
Francis Schaeffer, the great Christian teacher, saw our day coming
and warned of its impending disastrous consequences for the Church
and the Gospel. He wrote concerning the philosopher Hegel:
He opens the
door to that which is characteristic of modern man: truth
as truth is gone, ... relativism [now] reigns. Man will keep
his rationalism and his rebellion against God, his insistence
on total autonomy even if it means he must give up his RATIONALITY.
(ESCAPE FROM REASON)
the philosophies of the culture are hammering away at the Church
of the Lord with deadly effect. Those who are aware of what is
happening must sound the alarm. But they must also decide what
are the truths that cannot be compromised. The answer to this
could very well be simplistic in nature: "No biblical doctrine
can be forfeited or given away!" But for argument sake, this
author has made his list of "the least' that we must hold
to at all cost!
BEINGS ARE SPECIAL CREATIONS OF GOD. PEOPLE ARE NOT THE PRODUCTS
OF CHANCE EVOLUTION!
and abbreviated, the Genesis record of Creation is factual and
reliable. Humans have a special creational relationship with their
Creator. This false philosophy of evolution makes all events simply
accidental, random happenings. "There is no God, there is
no plan nor logical purpose for the universe," so says the
skeptic and atheist.
The Bible claims
the uniqueness of mankind's creation. He was created and formed
upright, intelligent, able to communicate, capable of understanding
moral concepts, and able to make choices. After man turned away
from God and sinned, he was cut off from the Lord thus becoming
a child of wrath. Though his reasoning powers were marred, man
can technically conceive and create. In his genius he can construct
skyscrapers. In the dark recesses of his evil heart, he may imagine
and then carve idols of wood, stone or plastic! The Lord still
has a claim on mankind as a being created in His image and likeness.
As a unique creature,
man cannot claim innocence in reference to his God-ward responsibility.
Man is both morally and spiritually a responsible creature. He
cannot hid behind the theory of evolution nor his "animalness."
Man can know, can sense a future judgment, and can retain or drive
God forth from his conscience.
But through it
all, man is still a creature bound to the providential keeping
of his Maker. God blesses, holds man responsible, takes his life
from him, and brings him to judgment. Our people in the pews do
not sense their creature limitations. They have absorbed the cultural
pride of life. They believe they are here for the duration not
simply living for a season. Thus many believers in Christ act
out the world's hopes and dreams. Big cars, fancy homes, VISA
cards maxed out. They believe psychology holds the answers for
emotional health, church is but an institutional necessity, Super
Bowl Sunday night in the church cafeteria is justified.
But the Bible speaks
to Christians and reminds us God has marked out days. After the
Father has used us we fall asleep. We are but a vapor and grass
that is here today, gone tomorrow. Clearly, as His creatures,
we will survive through another year if it is His will!
IS DEPRAVED, SINFUL AND JUSTLY CONDEMNED
Our culture is
into the cult of Positivism. Our churches are living the material
dreams of Armenianism. Both philosophies put man into the driver's
seat of his journey. Both believe human beings are captains of
their own destiny. But the Bible tells us the captains cannot
be trusted. We cannot even understand our own motives much less
comprehend our own physical and spiritual journey. The Bible tells
us that mankind is born of trouble just as sure as sparks fly
upwards. It reminds Christians we were children of wrath, that
we were dead in sins, that even our faith was a gift of God. The
Scriptures relate how no one within himself alone seeks God and
that there is none who knows God. Only the Holy Spirit using the
written Word, brings about conversion. The Word of God even correctly
insults us by telling us our righteous acts are so pitiful they
seem to the Lord as bloody menstrual rags.
Even after trusting
Jesus as Savior, we struggle with the Old Man, the sin nature.
We can walk as immature, look like the world, befriend the culture,
quench and grieve the Holy Spirit. The truth is, we cannot even
trust ourselves much less the world.
The doctrine of
depravity should cause humility and caution. It should melt pride
and create realistic expectations in us about our spiritual abilities
and motives. Some in the Evangelical world bombastically boast
how we can change the world. How if we focus our efforts we can
"cause" revival. And if we simply join together, the
energy we produce will somehow cause God to act. The Lord is seen
in heaven simply waiting on us. WE HAVE THE PLAN! We simply call
on Him from time to time to be the wall socket of electricity!
Our people need
to be reminded and taught that the power and plan are His. We
innately do not have the strength much less the insights to know
what to do. The Father has elected to use us even in our stupidity
but the Plan is really His! What he seeks from us is contrition
IS ABSOLUTE AND CAN BE KNOWN
is a critical "doctrine" if you will, that is extremely
important for our day. The culture tells us that there are no
longer absolutes. It tells us that propositional truth cannot
be known. Personal experiential reality is what counts. In other
words, "you create your own reality." "What is
right for you is right!"
Schaeffer saw this day coming and wrote:
changed was something more profound than merely one philosophic
answer for another. He changed the rules of the game in two
areas: EPISTEMOLOGY, the theory of knowledge and the limits
and validity of knowledge; and METHODOLOGY, the method by
which we approach the question of truth and knowing ... A
central reason Christians do not understand their children
is because their children no longer think in the same framework
in which their parents think. It is not merely that they come
out with different answers. The methodology has changed --
that is, the very method by which they arrive at, or try to
arrive at truth, has changed. (ESCAPE FROM REASON)
expands on this in his book THE DEATH OF TRUTH. He says our culture
now accepts the basic ideas of postmodernism. Reality is in the
mind of the beholder. People can't think independently because
they are "scripted" by the culture. No longer can one
prove anything, especially by history. And more specifically,
by history quoted in the Bible. McCallum notes that, ironically,
people are very interested in spirituality but reject biblical
Christianity! William H. Smith (WORLD, April 20, 1996) adds that
the Church since the Reformation has always practiced "boundary-set
thinking," with doctrine-established scriptural fences. He
points out that the paradigm has shifted to a "centered-set
thinking." Centered-set thinkers are not concerned with boundaries
but direction. Center-set thinkers are relativist with no walls.
The center-set thinker would say, "the Gospel can include
what you want it to, and it's OK if your heart is right."
You can describe Jesus and the Gospel by the Bible or by Mormon
or New Age standards. Fences do not count!
The Reformers believed
that the biblical truth could and should be stated propositionally
and systematically. Their confessions drew boundaries and testified
to the world, in concentrated form, the truths proclaimed in Scripture.
There is no doubt that creeds have weaknesses. Because of the
humanness of believers in Christ, no doctrinal statement will
be perfect. That statement must continually be refined and tested
by the Word of God itself. But to throw away propositional statements
of truth completely will bring upon us a new spiritual dark age
that will be more wicked than all our present failures wrapped
up in a bundle.
man is created in the image of God and the Lord has given in His
Word "contentful" knowledge which man desperately needs.
The Bible then sets forth its own statement of what the Word of
God itself is all about. It presents itself as God's communication
of propositional truth, written and in verbalized form, addressed
to those who are made in God's image. Thus, mankind can understand
because God speaks on our human level.
But the culture
now vehemently denies the fact that God has clearly spoken in
His Book! Working from what they would call a closed system (that
is, that if there is a God, He cannot break through the world
of man), but the secular and the unbiblical theological thinking
of today would say that it is absolutely impossible to truly know
truth as recorded in Scripture!
Thus simply aim
to "feel" God and you do this by "feeling"
yourself! Emotions become your truth. The emotional reality becomes
the message! Can we see the results of this in our churches? Absolutely!
What occurred at
Mt. Sinai? Moses said to the crowd, "You saw God's great
power; you heard." In a certain sense Moses was saying, "What
you heard was a verbalized communication from God to man, in a
definite, historic space-time situation." Moses was not giving
some kind of contentless, existential experience, nor taking an
anti-intellectual leap. He was giving to Israel God's clear, understandable
message! We find exactly the same kind of communication occurring
in the New Testament, as for example, when Christ spoke to Paul
in Hebrew on the Damascus road.
Though all learning
and all knowledge is skewed by human limitation, nevertheless,
truth is truth. An apple may be red. But if I am going blind it
may appear to me as purple. The problem is not with the apple
but with my eyes. Properly researched biblical history reveals
for us the truth though we may have a learning limitation. Yet
the truth is still there. The world is disavowing that we can
know truth, and especially biblical truth. The Bible is presented
as a scrapbook of big pieces of mythology and a little bit of
disjointed history. Schaeffer continues:
It is plain,
therefore, that from the viewpoint of the Scriptures themselves
there is a unity over the whole field of knowledge. God has
spoken, in a linguistic propositional form, truth concerning
Himself and truth concerning history and the universe. (THE
GOD WHO IS THERE)
When God speaks
about history or reveals something of Himself in the heavenlies,
the unity of truth is there because God has spoken truth into
all areas of our knowledge. Though the Lord is transcendent and
beyond us, He has condescended to reveal Himself in the Scriptures
because of His great love for us. This revelation of who He is,
our day when truth and the search for truth would be diminished
in the area of biblical studies. The great Reformation thinker
and Calvinist Charles Hodge wrote over one hundred and fifty years
It is one of
the distinguishing doctrines of Protestants that knowledge
is essential to faith. This is clearly the doctrine of Scripture.
How can they believe on Him of whom they have not heard? is
the pertinent and instructive query of the Apostle. Faith
includes the affirmation of the mind that a thing is true
and trustworthy ... Truth must be communicated to the mind,
and seen to be possible, before, on any evidence, it can be
believed. If, therefore, we cannot know God, we cannot believe
in Him. (SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY, Vol. 1, pp. 353-354)
Hodge further stated:
No man hesitates
to say that he knows that there was such a man as Washington,
or such an event as the American Revolution. If this testimony
of man can give us clear and certain knowledge of facts beyond
our experience, surely the testimony of God is greater. What
he reveals is made known. We apprehend it as it truly is.
The conviction that what God reveals is made known in its
true nature, is the very essence of faith in the divine testimony.
We are certain, therefore, that our ideas of God, founded
on the testimony of His Word, correspond to what He really
is, and constitute true knowledge. It is also to be remembered
that while the testimony of men is to the mind, the testimony
of God is not only to, but also within the mind. (Ibid., p.
Our people need
to know that the terms doctrine, teaching, exegesis, truth, are
not bad words. They reflect the fact that God has given us absolute
and certain knowledge. The Word of God is sufficient for the truth
about ourselves, the truth about our Lord, and about our eternal
destiny! Recently revisionists have called on Christians to forsake
their fixation on "head-knowledge." They say we're concentrating
too much on knowledge and too little on feelings and creativity.
No one doubts the place of heart conviction and its place in our
sincerity, commitment, and response to God. But again, that response
is built on tangible truth and promises. Thinking and knowing
cannot be left out of the formula.
Our people need
to know that the Bible is reasonable and requires reason to understand.
The Lord says "come lets us reason together ... " (Isaiah
1:18). Paul adds in II Timothy 2:15, "Start taking pains
to station yourself as one approved by testing before God as a
craftsman who doesn't need to be ashamed, cutting apart accurately
the Word of truth."
Since we are so
finite and jaded spiritually, prayer and the dynamic work of the
Holy Spirit is certainly required for our illumination. But God
still works through that which is objective, written reasonable,
mental and verbal. The Scriptures tell us this plainly, "All
Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching ...
that the man of God may be able to meet all demands, equipped
[by that inspired Word] for every good work" (II Timothy
3:16-17). "Proclaim the word; ... with great patience and
instruction" (II Timothy 4:2). "Belief comes from hearing,
and hearing by the Word of God" (Romans 10:17). (Arndt &
Gingrich notes that PISTIS [belief] can also be translated "reliable,"
"confidence," "conviction," "assurance.")
Our people must
be taught they cannot jettison doctrine, teaching, instruction,
reproof. Doctrinal teaching and verse by verse exegesis must be
restored and taught with enthusiasm in order to again strengthen
our churches. Paul reminds Timothy that he must be able "to
teach, ... if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to
the knowledge of truth, and they many escape from the snare of
the devil, ... " (II Timothy 2:24-26).
WORD OF GOD ALONE IS THE FINAL AUTHORITY FOR KNOWING GOD
Coming back to
Charles Hodge, he writes:
We need, therefore,
a divine supernatural revelation. Of this revelation, it is
to be remarked, first, that it gives us real knowledge. It
teaches us who God really is; what sin is; what the law is;
what Christ and the plan of salvation through Him are; and
what is to be the state of the soul after death. The knowledge
thus communicated is real, in the sense that the ideas which
we are thus led to form of the things revealed conform to
what those things really are. God and Christ, holiness and
sin, heaven and hell, really are what the Bible declares to
be (Ibid., p. 364).
When we speaking
of the written Logos of God, we mean the objective, unchangeable
authority from Him to us! Though written over centuries of time,
and by the human instrumentation of many personalities and experiences,
the Bible equally is the work of the Holy Spirit. And though those
human authors were imperfect, the Spirit so worked as to give
us an infallible and trustworthy record in all areas whereof it
No other authority
is necessary for what is needed for Christian living. There is
no other source for knowing God's will. There is no other reference
point for spiritual truth. There is no "extra" revelation
that can add to what we have now in the Scripture. Peter writes:
that His divine power has granted us everything pertaining
to life and godliness, THROUGH THE TRUE KNOWLEDGE OF HIM WHO
CALLED US BY HIS OWN GLORY AND EXCELLENCE" (I1 Peter
Peter says he reminds
his readers of these things "though you already KNOW them,
and have been established IN THE TRUTH . . . "(1:12). Notice,
the believers "know through the true knowledge, having been
established IN (BY) the truth!"
The Scripture of
the Old and New Testament form a canon because of the fact that
they are authoritative Oracles. By the term AUTHORITATIVE it is
implied that the Bible in all its parts is the voice of God speaking
to men. Its authority is inherent, being, as it is, no less than
the edict, "Thus says the Lord."
Lewis Sperry Chafer
in his SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (Vol. 1), gives seven reasons for the
authority of Scripture:
1) It is authoritative
because it is God-breathed (II Timothy 3:16).
2) The Bible
is authoritative because the imperfect human instruments (prophets,
apostles) were preserved from error by being "borne along"
by the Holy Spirit. Thus their consciousness, intelligence,
experience were used in inspiration by God; they did not speak
simply from their "human will" but they "spoke
from God" (I1 Peter 1:21).
3) The Word
of God is authoritative because it was so accepted by those
who first heard it. In other words, the people in almost all
cases realized that God had given them something that was
not simply human generated.
4) The Word
is authoritative because it was attested by Christ Himself.
Jesus put His stamp of approval and reference on almost all
the Old Testament books.
5) The Scriptures
are authoritative being received, delivered, and attested
by the prophets. The people, either of Israel or the Church,
were given no authority to deliver Scripture themselves, but
they were commanded to obey and keep the words given to them
by God's message bearers. For the most part, the people understood
that prophets were in their midst and they realized "the
Lord has spoken."
6) The Word
of God is authoritative in that the Word is clearly attested
as the work of the Spirit. The Scriptures are called "the
sword of the Spirit." Though quoting human authors, the
writer of Hebrews often says, "the Holy Spirit also bears
witness to us; . . ." (10:15). And Paul agrees when he
writes: "The Spirit speaks expressly ... " (I Timothy
7) The Word
of God is authoritative because it alone is sufficient to
change lives spiritual. The great message of Scripture is
about the Gospel that is "the power of God unto salvation"
(Romans 1:16). Its pierces through soul and spirit (Hebrews
4:12), is to be obeyed (Acts 5:32), and Christ prayed "Sanctify
them through Your truth; Your word is truth" (Jn. 17:17).
Thus SOLA SCRIPTURA,
only Scriptures! We need no other authority, not even creeds,
as perfect as they may be! (Though doctrinal statements help us
summarize.) We need no hierarchical or ecclesiastical sanction.
Only through the Bible can we know the way to God through Christ.
The Scriptures are sufficient for all that we need to know about
living the Christian life and obeying our God. And finally, only
the Bible gives us an accurate picture of things to come and eternity.
of course denies the sufficiency of Scripture. In their seminary
textbook FUNDAMENTALS OF CATHOLIC DOGMA, they write:
All those things
are to be believed by divine and Catholic faith which are
contained in the Word of God written down AND WHICH ARE PROPOSED
FOR OUR BELIEF BY THE CHURCH (p.4).
FACTS are understood historical facts, which are revealed
in Scripture, but which are intrinsically connected with revealed
truth through the legality of the Pope or of a General Council,
or the fact of the Roman episcopate (p. 9).
or Church doctrines, on which the infallible Teaching Authority
of the Church has finally decided, are to be accepted with
a faith which is based on the sole authority of the Church.
These truths are as certain as dogmas proper (p. 9).
Though the Bible
does not speak on all matters, by inspiration it gives us all
we need to know. All Protestant scholars have held that when the
book of Revelation says that no more words are to be added to,
or taken way from "this book," the reference is concerning
"removing" revelation recorded in Scripture or "adding"
so-called "new" revelation. The book of Revelation then
is the last book. No "prophet" or "apostle"
today brings additional revelation from God, either through a
Pope or Protestant "prophet." Those who make such claims
are self-inflated egotists! Prophets who make these revelatory
claims today are liars! In fact the words bear them out that they
indeed are false prophets. No one has recorded their words and
presented them to the Church as having equal authority alongside
our canon of Scripture. Self-proclaimed prophets today know their
"messages" from the Lord are not inspired! If they were,
why are not their words published in a book as equal authoritative
messages from the Lord?
Our people must
be taught the Doctrine of Bibliology and what is Scripture and
what is not!
IS BY GRACE THROUGH FAITH ALONE
Another hallmark of
the Reformation was Sola Fide, "only by faith." Though
there were some variations as to what this meant, generally it
carried the idea of the apostle Paul, that by grace one is saved
through faith in Christ alone. There is no other salvation, no
other Savior, no other means!
died for this doctrine. Dozens of associations and denominations
were begun on the foundations of this truth. Hundreds of religious
institutions and thousands of churches were spawned on the basis
of this spiritually liberating truth of the New Testament. Since
the Reformation and up until recently, no Evangelical group would
have dared think of abandoning Sola Fide. No one would have dreamed
of tampering with this biblical truth. Few biblical conservatives
would have imagined that for the sake of unity, Protestants and
Catholics could come together in a filial way and embrace as Christian
brothers and sisters. All Evangelical groups clung to the principle
that we're saved by the grace of God apart from human works, ecclesiastical
effort, or simply by some church relationship.
But today salvation
itself is being re-defined. "If one is sincere, if one uses
the right language, if one simply claims to be a Christian, despite
what he believes about salvation itself ..." then, indeed
he must be a child of God! Never mind doctrinal distinction! Never
mind the issue of the deity of Christ! Never mind if Mary is added
to the equation as a co-redemptrix for our salvation! Never mind
that Christ's sacrifice is not sufficient alone to save. Thus,
it is becoming more and more popular to add to Jesus' death on
the cross human works to place God!
most Evangelical Protestant churches were certain that this truth
could not be compromised. Evangelical churches would not dare
tamper with the heart and soul of the Christian faith, and that
is -- there is nothing we can do to save ourselves. We are helpless
in our sins. Only by simple faith and trust in Jesus Christ can
we ever receive eternal life. Few Evangelical Protestants have
ever questioned what the apostle Paul has clearly written about
the doctrine of salvation and justification by faith!
Could you officially
work with any group that compromised the Gospel or other truths
that are clear in Scripture?
Could you evangelize
or cooperate theologically with the Mormons who proclaim:
Could you evangelize
or cooperate theologically with the Catholics who proclaim:
How different from
The great Calvinist
Baptist John Gill summarized for us:
is called the word of faith ... the faith once delivered to
the saints. The Gospel includes the free, sovereign, everlasting,
and unchangeable love of God; of eternal, personal, and irrespective
election ... to grace and glory ... of the everlasting, absolute,
unconditional, and sure free grace; of particular redemption
by Christ, proceeding on to a full satisfaction of divine
justice; of justification by the imputed righteousness of
Christ; of reconciliation and pardon by His blood; of regeneration
and sanctification by the Spirit; of the perseverance of the
saints in faith and holiness, the resurrection of the dead,
and eternal glory. Now this faith the apostles preached, published,
declared, spoke out openly and publicly; fully and completely,
without dropping, concealing, or keeping back any thing clearly
and plainly, without using foggy phases, or words of doubt
meaning, with all faithfulness and integrity, boldness and
CHURCH MUST HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH SECULAR PSYCHOLOGY
Church has had a literal invasion of secular psychology. Beginning
in earnest in the 1950s with Dr. Bruce Naramore, more and more
books were produced that advocated a wedding of psychology and
the Bible. The key word used presently is "integration."
And as I speak today, the momentum for this integration is accelerating
faster than we can possibly imagine.
It is my opinion
that from the beginning Christian writers who attempted an integration
process of the Bible and psychology, made a fatal error. For example,
Dr. Hildreth Cross in his 1952 volume AN INTRODUCTION TO PSYCHOLOGY
(Zondervan) argues that this field studies man in his total environment:
physical, mental, and spiritual nature. He then notes that the
secularist has trouble gathering laboratory data on the spiritual
aspect of man because the psychologist can't find an experimental
approach to this elusive aspect of study. He then hints at the
fact that psychologists have a bias against the idea of the soul
and thus do not include it in their research (p. 25).
The bottom line
is, the world does not believe the Bible nor does it agree to
the fact that the number one human relationship should be with
the Creator. Man is seen only as an animal. He has evolved into
a higher form and yet he still is imply an animal. If there is
a God, He cannot be known. Man is the author of his own destiny.
What is so interesting
is that Dr. Cross and other Christian "integrationists"
simply plowed on in their effort to make psychology fit into a
biblical mold. They succeeded in popularizing and "christianizing"
an evolutionary saturated pseudo-science. The next step was to
bring it within the walls of our churches.
The word psychology
is a good Greek word, coming from Psuxa, meaning "soul,"
or "life." Or, "the seat and center of the inner
life of man in its many and varied aspects." (Arndt &
Gingrich) In the New Testament the word is often translated in
regards to feelings and emotions. Sometimes the word may refer
to the mind. But from the very beginning of secular psychology,
any kind of biblical focus was excluded from the field. And yet
Evangelical seminaries are accelerating in their emphasis on secular
counseling, psychology. Many are downplaying their Bible training
as over against their infatuation with psychology courses. More
and more Bible colleges have just recently moved to psychological
counseling. For example, you can now get the following degree
-- Lincoln Christian Seminary
Family Therapy --
Anderson School of Theology
Marriage & Family
(Doctorate with state licensure -- Bethel Seminary
-- Wheaton College
-- George Fox College
-- Regent University
and Psychology -- Emerge Ministries (college)
Counselor -- Ashland Theological Seminary
of Psychology & Theology"
Clinical Psychology (doctorate) (licensed) Gestalt Therapy --
(licensure) "Integration & Integrity" -- Indiana
Social Work (accredited)
-- Roberts Wesleyan College
Counseling (certified) -- Eastern College
All courses integrate psychology &
a Christian world-view. (licensure) -- Geneva College
This list is but
the tip of the iceberg. Most schools have counseling departments
that are using tainted textbooks and secular theorists. George
Fox College notes:
"We are committed
to the integration of biblical principles and the science
of psychology ... professional practitioner model within the
context of a Christian world-view. Our faculty brings a wealth
of professional experience and diversity of theoretical backgrounds."
TYNDALE does not teach assimilation of Psychology and Christianity
in its Biblical Counseling Department. The Bible is our guidebook.
We refuse to teach toward licensure. We are preparing people to
work only under the context of ministries or churches. In the
last few years over a dozen people coming to the school's counseling
center have accepted Christ as Savior. If any textbook statement
is suspect it is flagged by the professor. At TYNDALE we teach
students "to learn and discern." We use only one secular
textbook entitled: AN INTRODUCTION TO THEORIES OF PERSONALITY,
B.R. Hergenhahn, Prentice Hall! What do some of the secularist
Many of these and
other philosophies are coming into the churches through pastoral
courses or placing state licensed Christian counselors into the
ministry program. To be state licensed, the student must attend
a state university or Christian college that is integrating the
Bible with secular psychology. They must work for years under
the supervision of an MD or Ph.D. in psychiatry or psychology.
The Church should
have nothing to do with psychological counseling. Psychology needs
to be purged from the pulpit and pastors need to get back to biblical
training in order to learn to teach just the Word of God from
the pulpit! And they need to learn again how to counsel from Scripture.
ARE TO BE "SLAVES" TO THEIR MASTER
On almost every
page of the New Testament we are reminded that Jesus is the Lord
and we are His servants! Today there is an unstated supposition
that the Lord serves us! Many pop devotionals and even many of
our contemporary Christian songs proclaim how Jesus wants to make
us happy. We are told over and over how valuable we are to Him.
In so many words we are told how we must cooperate with Him, how
His plans are thwarted without our help. But the Scriptures contain
none of the above ideas.
Instead, the Bible
tells us Jesus is "our Lord" (Romans 1:4). We are "called"
by Him and we received grace and apostleship (1:5). We are now
servants of righteousness (Romans 6:16), servants of God (1 Peter
2:16). Paul reminds us we were bought with a price. "Now
having been freed from sin and enslaved to God" (Romans 6:22).
Because of psychology
and its emphasis on self, few Christians see themselves as serving
the Master! But our redemption and salvation is to bring honor
and glory to the Lord. Somehow, we have it the other way around.
Normative to the Church Age is suffering and persecution for Christ's
sake. He is to use us when and how He pleases. The apostle Paul
understood the plan of suffering well.
Paul writes, "we
are afflicted, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing,
persecuted but not forsaken; struck down but not destroyed"
(I1 Corinthians 4:8-9). Persecution is producing for us "an
eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison" (I1 Corinthians
4:18). If we are not suffering for Christ's sake today, it means
He has given us a narrow window of a reprieve from persecution.
But in the past the Church of the Lord has suffered much for His
movement has wreaked havoc on the humility factor in the body
of Christ. But Paul reminds us "Do nothing from selfishness
or 'empty glory,' but with humility of mind let each of you regard
one another as more important than himself ..." (Philippians
When the Jews who
returned from Babylon realized how far they had drifted from the
Lord by marrying Canaanite women, they along with Ezra, were broken
spiritually. Ezra writes "they trembled at the words of God
because of their unfaithfulness" (9:4), they felt their guilt
and open shame (9:6, 7). Ezra cried out "now for a brief
moment grace has been shown from the Lord our God ... to give
us a peg [a nail to hang onto] in His holy place ... a little
reviving in our bondage" (ch. 9). As well, God reminded the
people not to seek the peace or the prosperity of the culture.
If they obeyed this command they would leave an inheritance to
their sons forever (9:12). Because of conviction, the people trembled
and wept bitterly! (10:1).
We need to teach
our people about returning to humility. We all need to weep over
our sins and the sins of the Church!
PURITY IS ESSENTIAL FOR STABILITY IN THE BODY OF CHRIST
It has been said
of one of the popular "conservative" evangelical writers
in the area of spiritual warfare that reading his books is like
eating steak laced with arsenic. The steak tasted great and makes
up the major portion, but the arsenic, imbedded throughout, will
kill you. I can't think of a better analogy of what is going on
in evangelicalism today. "Speaking the truth in love"
is no longer "popular" or "politically correct"
so many in the evangelical world have lost their taste for it.
Thus, one of Satan's most effective weapons against Christ's Church
is tearing away at the very core of Biblical Christianity. That
weapon being, teach a lot of truth and mix in a little bit of
error. Once we have developed a taste for error the dosage can
and will be elevated!
One of the problems
is that we have bought the lie that to confront error is not showing
love. We have redefined love! In the context of Scripture it is
not the one who allows his brother to continue in sin and error
who is showing love but the one who confronts is showing love
(Matthew 18:15). Love and truth can no more be separated than
can God, who is Love and Truth by His very nature!
The phrase "speak
the truth in love" comes from Ephesians 4:15. Paul begins
this chapter in Ephesians with an appeal to "preserve the
unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." Thus unity was
extremely important to Paul. Paul lists even elements of Christ's
unity, those being: (1) One body (the universal church), (2) One
Spirit, (3) One hope (a future eternity with God), (4) One Lord
(this historical, Biblical Christ, (5) One faith (the faith that
was once for all delivered to the saints), (6) One baptism (believer's
identification with Christ's body - 1 Corinthians 12:13; Romans
6:1-4). There can be no unity with those who do not come together
on these seven elements!
in Ephesians 4:7-16 discussing how that unity in the body of Christ
is preserved. After discussing the gifted men that were given
to the church to "equip the saints for the world of the service,"
Paul goes on to show how only through this equipping process will
we mature to the point of knowing sound doctrine in a way that
we are not "tossed here and there ... and carried about by
every wind of doctrine" (Ephesians 4:15). With a solid doctrinal
understanding, we can then speak the truth in love and reach full
maturity ("grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head,
The bottom line
is, without doctrinal understanding, there can be no stability
in the body and thus no maturity.
else can Paul's insistence on the teaching of sound doctrine in
the church be more clearly seen than in the Pastoral Epistles.
This makes sense since it is the elders (pastor-teachers) who
are responsible for studying, learning and passing on that truth
to the Body. In Paul's final word's of wisdom to his spiritual
disciples and successors, look at the emphasis on teaching truth
and confronting error in I Timothy alone!
out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant
of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the
faith and of the SOUND DOCTRINE which you have been following"
concern in his final years of life was that these men teach doctrinal
truth. As we have already seen in Ephesians chapter four, doctrinal
teaching is essential for maturity and stability in the Body and
a compromise in this area can lead to eventually forsaking the
very Gospel for the sake of unity. Paul told Timothy, "Pay
close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in
these things; for as you do this you will insure salvation both
for yourself and for those who hear you" (1 Timothy 4:16).
"LIVING" BELIEF IN OUR MORTALITY AND A COMING ETERNITY
Because of Humanism
and the deification of mankind, the concept of death is almost
beyond our realm of reality. The world is told to play hard, live
for the now. In fact the very term "Hedonism" mean "the
present," "to want it all now." Since most of us
will cross the great divide in a sterile hospital bed, and because
of the art of body preservation by embalming, few Americans see
the full frightening impact of dying. But our mortality is real!
And the only hope beyond the grave is personal faith in Jesus
Christ as the only Savior and hope.
But there is also
a large scope to consider when thinking about Eschatology. Many
Christians today are confused about this doctrine of Eschatology.
Many argue against the idea of the rapture of the Church on the
basis that this view leads to pessimism and attitude of "pie
in the sky by and by!" Some argue also that the idea of the
rapture leads to sloppy Christian living, that it removes an incentive
to witnessing. Actually, none of the above objections are true.
The greatest and most
effective missionary training schools of the last century have
been the premillennial/rapture teaching institutions like Moody
Bible Institute or Philadelphia College of Bible. Because these
schools and others taught the soon return of Christ, the missionary
imperative was tremendous.
As well, almost
all the rapture passages of the Bible have verses attached that
give a strong command to live a Godly life "because He's
coming back soon!"
These and other
important Eschatological truths impact the fact that "this
world is not our home." "Our citizenship is in heaven,
from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ"
(Philippians 3:20). Paul goes on: "We look not at the things
which are seen, but at the things which are not seen;... for the
things which are not seen are eternal" (I1 Corinthians 4:18)
and "we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from
heaven" (5:2), but as well we "wait for [God] Son from
heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who [will
be] rescuing is out from the wrath approaching" (1 Thessalonians
1:10). Though you may differ with me on some of the details of
the end-time events, eschatology is important and must be taught.
But there is the
personal aspect of Eschatology. For example, as Evangelicals we
cannot water down the doctrines of heaven and hell. Universally,
"it is appointed for [all] men to die once and after this
comes judgment" (Hebrews 9:27). For those in Christ, absent
from the body, present with the Lord (I1 Corinthians 5:6). For
those without the Lord Jesus, there are the flames "where
their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched" (Mark
give up on or weaken the view of eternal judgment. We cannot sally
forth witnessing about a loving God and fail to warn of His wrath
upon those not in Christ. And how we treat eternal issues may
reflect on how we proclaim and live forth present issues! If we
honestly believe the Gospel is true and the only way to eternal
life, then likewise we believe all must be saved from an eternal
hell, by that Gospel!
Satan, using the
culture, is attempting to destroy the witness of the Church. In
his commentary on the book of John, Van Doren says the tendency
of this world is (1) to stir up and strengthen the impulses of
our animal-like nature, (2) to destroy the sense of individual
responsibility, (3) to produce habits to superficial though, (4)
to produce forgetfulness of God.
the concrete walls that hold out such moral and spiritual erosion.
This is why Paul told Timothy:
to the reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching.
... Take pains with these things; be absorbed in them, ...
Start looking within yourself and start examining your teaching;
stay on top of these things; as you do this you will be keeping
from harm, both yourself and those who are listening to you
(Gr. I Timothy 4:13-16).
Your list of what
is most important doctrinally may be different than mine. But
in actuality, every truth put forth in Scripture is to be heeded
and obeyed simply because "God gave it!" Every doctrine
in God's Word is crucial!
John Armstrong in his book THE COMING EVANGELICAL CRISIS gives
a frightening analysis of where we are today. What he writes is
some practical issues], we give relative authority to the
Scripture. To give it absolute authority would be to question
a good deal of what is presently happening in a significant
number of [doctrinal] areas. We have grown accustomed to things
as they are, and as long as they seem to work we plan to stay
the course. The Word truly unleashed would judge us. We would
be forced to begin a [doctrinal] reforming process that would
be painful and costly. We are not sure yet if we want to do
this, especially as long as the "good times roll"
RESPONSE TO DOCTRINAL ERROR IN THE CHURCH
Simply put, the
apostle addressed Doctrinal Deviation head-on. Paul didn't mince
words. He refused to back down from controversy. He also was not
afraid to call names and be specific with the nature of error.
Throughout his letters he made it clear that the way to silence
error was to teach doctrine and to instruct. By the power of the
Holy Spirit and sound words, Paul felt the mind had to be changed
by the input of new spiritual truth.
The early Church
was full of heresy and error. For example the false religions
of (1) Gnosticism apparently were rampant in the early Church
setting. As well, the apostle Paul considered (2) Jewish legalism
as heresy that had to be addressed with all speed lest it destroy
the truth of justification by faith through grace alone. There
was also the (3) mixing "assimilation" or syncretism
of paganism and Christianity would assert itself in Catholicism.
These three main errors are described below:
The Gnostics were
the New Agers of their day. Though we don't know of all that the
Gnostic groups taught, they did for certain believe they were
gifted to receive revelation others could not know. Thus the word
"Gnostic," TO KNOW WHAT OTHERS CANNOT FATHOM or, TO
HAVE SPECIAL KNOWLEDGE! Many Gnostics held to strict asceticism,
prophetic utterances, the deity of human beings and that there
were many paths to God. They also denied the true humanity of
In Galatians, Paul
encounters head-on Jewish legalism. Even some Christian Jews apparently
were arguing for faith in Christ PLUS keeping the Law in order
to obtain salvation. They certainly were urging Law-keeping and
faith for living out the experience of salvation. Paul seems to
become more angry about this issue than any other. There can be
no mixing of Law and Grace!
of Paganism and Christianity
The most conspicuous
mixing of paganism and Christianity in the New Testament is found
in the book of Revelation. By some accounts of the church fathers,
the Nicolaitans (Rev. 2:6) were a sect advocating license and
free love. They promoted a hierarchy that could have led to the
concept of the Roman priesthood. John the apostle hints that some
at the church of Pergamum had fallen back into idolatry (2:14),
and some tolerated Jezebel who lead many astray to acts of immorality
and sacrifice to idols (2:20). Later, many churches fell even
deeper into idolatry and pagan practices.
But it is common
knowledge that, after the New Testament period, and early in the
development of the Church during the early Middle Ages, Christendom
was assimilating with paganism. Mariolatry was the most obvious
doctrinal deviation from biblical orthodoxy, Quoting Dave Hunt's
book A WOMAN RIDES THE BEAST:
The only "queen
of heaven" mentioned in Scripture is an idol which was
worshipped by the pagans and to which the Jewish women gave
offerings, bringing the wrath of God upon them: The children
gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women
knead their dough to make cakes to the queen of heaven, and
to pour out drink offerings unto other gods, that they may
provoke me to anger ... (Jeremiah 7:18).
have burned incense [to the queen of heaven] and because you
have sinned against the Lord ... therefore this evil is happening
unto you (44:15).
Far from being
embarrassed by such pagan connections, Rome flaunts them.
May Catholics boast that Mary has taken the place of "Maia,
the nymph of Greek mythology, who was the mother of Hermes
by Zeus, the sky god." The month of May was named after
Maia, who was known as "the queen of May ... [and] the
Jesuit effort to turn the Queen of May into the Virgin Mary
was successful ... (p. 441, Harvest House, 1994).
APOSTLES PETER AND JUDE
Both of these men
spoke out about being on guard and not being carried away by the
error of "lawless" men (I1 Peter 3:17). Peter says these
"false prophets" came in "among" the believers
(2:1). By coming into the churches they "cleansed" themselves
outwardly and morally by escaping "the defilements of the
culture" (2:20). They had an outer acceptance of Christ but
then "turned away" from the truth (2:21). One of the
characteristics of those in cults is that they can look like believers
in Christ. They can appear "religious" and pious. But
Peter in no uncertain words says they never know the Lord in personal
Jude writes that
these false prophets "crept into the churches unnoticed who
were marked out long ago for condemnation." He adds they
were ungodly men who turned God's grace into "debauchery"
(Gr. aseigeia) (v. 4). he goes on to write that they went after
the error of Balaam (v. 11) and were "hidden reefs"
[of destruction] in their love feasts (v. 12). Jude further describes
them as "trees without fruit," "doubly dead, uprooted"
(v. 12). He forcefully concludes:
These are grumblers,
finding fault, following after their own lusts; they speak
arrogantly, flattering people for the sake of gaining an advantage
These are the
ones who cause divisions, [they are] worldly-minded, devoid
of the Spirit (v. 19).
Peter says they
are "self-willed," and indulge the flesh while despising
authority (2:10). He says they are Hedonistic (Gr. hadonan, "Living
in the Now!"), living in luxury; they are stains and blemishes
and speak out "arrogant words of vanity [and] entice by fleshly
desires, by sensuality" promising freedom while they are
slaves of corruption (2:18-19).
In terms of Eschatology,
Peter adds that "in the last days mockers will come ... following
their own lusts, and saying 'Where is the promise of His coming?
... [since] all continues just as it was from the beginning of
creation'" (3:3-4). The apostle tells us why they say this
and that is, they have their own selfish agenda (their own lusts)
whereby they want the world to continue as it is (3:3).
RESPONSE TO DOCTRINAL ERROR
In Paul's first
letter (49-55 AD), the apostle comes out blasting Jewish Legalism!
He calls the Gospel "the grace of Christ" (1:6) and
warns of those teaching a "different" Gospel (1:6),
disturbing the believers and distorting the Gospel message (1:6-7).
He calls "accursed" any who preach a contrary Gospel,
no matter if the message-bearer is from heaven or earth! (1:8).
Paul makes it clear
that the pure Gospel is not from men and that it came by revelation
(1:11-12). The apostle makes no bones about the fact that he is
the Lord's exclusive, first-line message-bearer and that he received
this truth from the Lord, outside of himself. It's origin is not
from mean! (1:11). Paul goes on and explains that opposition comes
from "false brothers" who have sneaked in and spied
out the Church's liberty "which we have in Christ Jesus,"
with the intent of bringing believers into "bondage"
Paul further reminds
his readers that he submitted his Gospel message to the church
at Jerusalem. The Lord Himself guided Paul to share the "revelation"
he received from Christ to the apostles in private (2:2). James,
Peter, and John recognized the grace that had been given to Paul
(2:9). Later, though not preaching heresy, Peter was not consistent
in his practicing the Gospel of grace (Ryrie. In time, Peter was
convinced of his error!
In the heart of
his Galatian letter, Paul argues that you cannot mix Law and grace,
both in the issue of salvation and in the issue of living out
the Christian life (3:1-5). Paul speaks strongly that "God
would justify the Gentiles by faith ... " (3:8). He adds
that by being under the Law, one is cursed! (3:14). The apostle
adds that God has "hemmed in, enclosed, confined, imprisoned"
(Gr.) all men under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ
might be given to those who believe (3:22). No argument could
be more clear than what Paul puts forth here in Galatians!
But into the believers'
camp comes opposition!
Paul writes of
those who are attempting to "persuade" the churches
differently (5:8). He speaks of those who are "hindering,"
"disturbing" and "troubling" the body of Christ.
He argues that their ultimate goal is to "make a good showing
in the flesh" by trying to Judaize the Gentile Christians
back into circumcision (6:12).
As Paul closes this
book he urges his readers to watch carefully certain brothers
in the Lord and "turn away from them" (16:12). He adds,
"for such men are slaves . . . of their own appetites"
and deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting by "smooth and
flattering speech" (16:18).
& I1 Corinthians
The assembly at
Corinth had more problems than any other church. Paul addresses
their division (1:10) and quarrels (1:11). He focuses on the power
of the Gospel for salvation (1:18) and the great need in the Christian
life to grow up (ch. 3). The apostle closes 1 Corinthians with
few specific warnings but he does remind the readers to "Be
on the alert, stand firm in the faith ... " (16:13). As well,
he comes down hard on anyone who does not love the Lord by saying
"let him be accursed" (16:22).
In this letter
Paul has only one paragraph of a warning nature, in regard to
apparent error. He writes, "Let no one deceive you with empty
words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon
the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them"
In this epistle
Paul is furious at the inroads of the Judaizers. He detests the
mixing of Law with Grace. He writes a stinging rebuke and says,
"Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of
the false circumcision; ... put no confidence in the flesh"
believe the term "dog" is referring to the Judaizers
who claimed circumcision as necessary for salvation. Though dog
was generally a word reserved for pagan Gentiles.
Paul comes out
blasting those who were "defrauding" the Colossian saints
(2:18). They were mystics who worshipped angels, had visitations
fro them and had an egotistical, self-inflated mind. Paul writes
that these people were not "holding onto the head,"
Christ, who brought about spiritual growth (2:19).
As well, the apostle
writes against the ascetics who looked at things physical as sinful,
"Handle not, taste not, touch not!" (2:21). Ascetics
followed after the commandments of men that appeared wise but
were really practices of "self-made religion ... and severe
treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence"
(2:23). Paul urges his readers to raise set their eyes on things
above, not on the things of earth (3:2).
& I1 Thessalonians
The apostle closes
1 Thessalonians by commanding all in the church to "admonish
the impulsive, cheer up the small-souled, help the sick [of heart]
... " 5:14. Besides this, he urges the church to appreciate
those working among them and who "give you instruction"
The church at Thessalonica
was suffering terribly from persecution. But Paul was still concerned
about error, apostasy and doctrinal departure and about those
who lived undisciplined and lazy lives. At the end of I1 Thessalonians
he writes: "Keep away from every brother who leads an undisciplined
life ..." (3:6). With even harsher words, he says "If
anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special
note of that man and do not associate with him, so that he may
be put to shame ... yet do not regard him as an enemy but instruct
him as a brother" (3:14). The apostle was determined to create
a strong, mature Church that could withstand any onslaught of
In the Pastoral
Epistles, the apostle comes down even harder on doctrinal drift.
In 1:3, Timothy was told to stay at Ephesus in order to "'command
with authority' (Gk.) certain men not to teach 'Heterodoxy' (Gk.)
nor to pay attention to mere speculations that do not further
the work of the God by faith!" These men, he says, have strayed
from "commands given by authority" (Gk.) and have "limped"
(Gk.) towards fruitless discussions (1:5, 6). Paul says these
men are "legalists" and do not "mentally reason"
(Gk.) what they are saying and know nothing about the things they
seem confident about.
The apostle does
not mind mentioning the names of those who have drifted from the
truth. He writes of two men named Alexander and Hymenaeus who
became shipwrecked in faith (1:19). Alexander was delivered over
to Satan because of his blaspheming (1:20). Further, this man
"vigorously opposed our teaching" Paul adds (II Timothy
Paul also went
beyond his day to ours. In 4:1, I believe he addresses our apostate
church by his strong words:
Spirit emphatically is saying that in later times some will
themselves 'apostaize' (Gk.) away from The Faith (Arndt &
Gingrich), turning one's mind (Gk.) to 'impostor spirits'
and to demonic didactics ... [They are doing this by the influence
of those] liars with 'inferior discernment' (upokrisis) who
have been seared by their own conscience" (4:1-2).
The apostle adds that
Timothy will be a good servant to point "out these things
to the brothers" (4:6) who need to be continually nourished
on the words of faith and of the sound doctrine "which you
[Timothy] have been following."
Paul urges young
pastor Timothy to avoid "worldly babblings" (4:7) and
"empty chatter" (6:20) with [doctrinally] opposing arguments
of what is falsely labeled "knowledge" -- which some
have professed and thus gone astray from the faith (6:21).
The apostle concludes
this letter to Timothy with the following strong words:
and counseling with these principles! If anyone [teaches]
heterodoxy (Gk.), and does not set-forth sound words, those
of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming
to godliness, he is conceited and understands nothing; but
he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes
about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language,
evil suspicions, ... (6:2-4).
Because of the
rejection of doctrine and of the Gospel, Paul warns Timothy of
the struggle he must endure for truth. Paul points out that all
in Asia turned away from him (1:15). He uses in this letter phrases
like "suffer hardship as a good soldier," "compete
as an athlete," "the hard-working farmer," "enduring
all things," "persecutions and sufferings," "imprisonment
as a criminal though the word of God is not imprisoned"!
Timothy was to
remind those drifting to stop "wrangling" about words,
which is useless, and "leads to the ruin of the hearers"
In this epistle
also Paul is not afraid to call names. He mentions again Hymenaeus
along with Philetus, who had "gone astray from the truth"
and had "upset the faith of some" (2:18). These men
were teaching that the resurrection had already come and gone
with the result that many were spiritually shaken within. Paul
also urges Timothy to "reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great
patience and instruction" (4:2) because, the time will arrive
when men will not endure sound doctrine (4:3). They will want
their ears tickled and desire teachers who will tell them what
they want to hear. These men will turn away from the truth to
In this book the
apostle also warns of the last days when hard times will come.
Men will be self-lovers, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant,
revilers, disobedience to parents, ungrateful, unholy, ... holding
a form of godliness but denying its power (3:1-5). They will be
those who are ever "learning and never able to come to the
knowledge of the truth" (3:7).
In many ways Paul
is tougher on error in this letter to Titus than in any of his
other writings. In giving the qualifications for the elder, the
apostle says this church leader Titus should be "exhorting
with 'healthy' doctrine and exposing those who argue" (Gk.19).
In a lengthy diatribe the apostle lashes out against "rebellious
men," "empty talkers," and "deceivers"
(1:10) who "must be silenced because they are upsetting whole
families teaching things they should not teach, for the sake of
sordid gain" (1:11). He adds "reprove them severely
that they may be sound in faith" (1:13). He goes on: they
teach the commandments of men "who turn away from the truth"
In contrast, Titus
is to "speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine"
(2:1). Paul then addresses the spiritual and practical needs of
older and younger men and women. He ties "good deeds"
together with "purity in doctrine" (2:7). He again urges
Titus to speak "these things" and exhort, reprove with
all authority" (2:15). In doing so, "shun foolish controversies
and genealogies and strife and disputes about the Law" (3:9)
for such discussion are worthless, he says. And finally, "reject
a factious man after a first and second warning, knowing that
such a man is perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned"
AND CONFRONTING ERROR
On the progressive
invasion of Feminism into the Evangelical churches, some pastors
have answered: "But I don't want to make the ladies angry!"
On the silence
of teaching eschatology in Evangelical churches, some pastors
have answered: "But teaching prophecy can be controversial!"
On the issue of
teaching about the heresy of Catholicism, some pastors have answered:
"But I have people in the congregation who have been former
On the issue of
warning in regards to Promise Keepers, some pastors have answered:
"But I have a group of deacons who go to PK and want a PK
support group here at the church!"
On the issues of
a certain friendliness toward secularized counseling, some pastors
have answered: "But I have many in my church who follow the
Christian psychologist on radio. If I speak out, they may leave
How would the apostle
of the New Testament answer these pastors?
1) Paul and James
would say, "no matter the cost, you teach doctrinal truth."
2) John would
say, "truth is never sacrificed in place of love. Both
are proclaimed an bonded together."
3) James and
John would say that "we are at war with the culture. We
can never compromise and assimilate biblical truth with the
philosophies of the world!"
1) James argues,
"if any among you strays from the truth, and one turns
him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error
of his way will save his soul from death, and will 'remove from
sight' a multitude of sins" (James 5:19-20). The writer
of Hebrews adds, "do not be carried away by varied and
strange teachings; ..." (Hebrews 13:9). Paul goes on, "if
anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, ... do
not associate with him, ... put him to shame. [And yet] admonish
him as a brother" (I1 Thessalonians 3:14-15).
But Paul goes
even further in his argument for teaching strong doctrine. He
writes in II Timothy 3:16-17:
is God-breathed (Gk. theopneustos) and is useful for TEACHING
[a body of doctrine propositions], REPROOF [a statement of
negative reprimand], CORRECTION [getting back on course],
TRAINING in righteousness [a new path in living].
with a solemn charge: "Start proclaiming the word; be ready
in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great
patience and instruction" (II Timothy 4:2).
2) The apostle
John comes down hard on the issue of Christian love and doctrine.
He does not argue "just love everybody!" Nor does
he argue "just teach doctrine only!" He argues for
both. "Let us not love with word or with tongue, but in
deed and truth" John 3:18). He continues:
whom I love with truth; and not only I, but also all who know
the truth, for the sake of the truth which abides in us and
will be with us forever" (I1 John 2). "Grace and
mercy from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Son of
the Father, in truth and love" (v. 3). He adds that he
is glad to find the believers "walking in truth"
(v. 4) and notes that this was commanded by God the Father!
John says he
is so glad to hear from other believers that those he wrote
to were "walking in the truth." He states further,
"I have no greater joy than this to hear of my children
walking in the truth" (II1 John 4).
3) Finally, we
are at war with the culture. The world coming into the church
and taking over the lives of believers, is possibly one of the
most alarming and frightening events happening. Discernment
is gone! Pastors and people no longer seem to know the difference
between the influence of the world and biblical truth!
James and John
speak to this issue head-on. John first reminds his readers
they are strong because "the word of God abides in you"
(1 John 2:14). But he reminds the Christians, "do not love
the world (culture), nor the things in the culture," because
the one who loves the culture cannot have the love for God the
Father within (2:15). He adds, the philosophy of the world and
all it offers is not from the Father (2:16). From the culture
we are tempted by the "cravings" (lust) of the flesh,
the "cravings" of what our eyes long for. As well,
we are tugged by the culture toward the pretentious pride of
living (Gk., bios)!
In no uncertain
terms James blasts away at the believers' who sleep with the
world. "You adulteresses, do you not know that a friendship
with the culture is 'war with God'?" (James 4:4). "Therefore
whoever wishes to be a friend of the culture makes himself an
enemy of God." James then pictures God as a jealous husband.
He has placed His Spirit within us because He desires to have
an exclusive and intimate relationship as a husband with his
writes that God has given us a "greater grace" to
overcome the temptation of the culture. Worldly temptation is
fueled by a selfish pride which God is not committed to (antitasso)
but instead, He will grant grace to those who humble themselves
and repudiate the world and all its glitter! (4:6).
ERROR AND THE CHURCH ELDERS
In wrapping up, Lenski
do but one thing with these people, namely gag them, stop
their mouths and silence them by force. Paul does not say
how this was to be accomplished; [but] in I Timothy 1:4 he
wants Timothy to order them to stop their contrary teaching.
(TITUS, p. 901).
If we do not
turn away from the simple doctrine of the gospel, if we wish
to be governed by the will of God; if we are not carried away
by our ... passions, if we do not walk by our groveling appetites;
in short, IF WE ARE GOOD SCHOLARS OF OUR GOD, AND RECKON IT
ENOUGH TO HAVE RECEIVED THE DOCTRINE WHICH HE TEACHES US;
IF THAT BE THE CASE WE SHALL BE FORTIFIED AGAINST ALL EVIL!
(TITUS, p. 303).
Closing with John
in the faith" (Titus 1:13) means "healthy"
in faith. Thus we speak wholesome words of Christ to create
strong and robust and healthy believers. What about those
who are weak and sickly in their profession of faith? We should
rebuke those who are infected with bad principles and practices,
like the physician removing the causes of disorder; and with
rebuke, admonition and censuring. THIS IS ULTIMATELY FOR THE
GOOD OF THOSE CORRECTED. (TITUS, p. 351).
Mal Couch PH.D.,
TH.D. and Russell L. Penney Dr. Sc.
copyright © 1996/97, Tyndale Theological Seminary