False Teaching Really Is False

One of the objections to Christianity that I’ve heard atheists make is that anyone can say the Bible points to whatever they want, so all these “Christian” views are equally invalid, since they disagree with each other.

When I rebut that argument by declaring that words have meaning and there is actually an intended meaning in the Bible, which false teaching drifts from, I hear the common atheist objections that have cute and quick handles and serve as a way to dismiss the idea that false interpretations of the Bible are not the same as what the Bible actually says.

The fact is, false teaching has been around as long as the Bible itself. As it happens a number of New Testament writers warned the early church about these false ideas that distort what Jesus taught. Paul, for instance, said some where peddling a “false gospel.”

Later, in 1 Timothy 4:1 he warns his young student in the faith: “the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons.” Paul continues for another three verses, uncovering the false ideas that were going around at the time before he turns to some related practical matters: have nothing to do with “worldly fables,” discipline yourself spiritually, teach the truth, read and teach Scripture, and so on.

Perhaps no passages in Scripture come down harder on false teaching than do Jude and similarly, 2 Peter. Jude starts with this warning:

For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. (v 4)

The rest of the short letter is basically an indictment and warning of these mockers “who cause divisions” and are “worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit.”

Peter is just as straightforward, warning the early church of the dangers of deceitful teaching:

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. (1 Peter 2:1)

I think the key here is “denying the Master who bought them.” Today people who profess Christ “deny the Master who bought them” in a variety of ways. Some spiritualize His very existence—the Bible, they say, is not about a real, historical person but an idea, a good idea that we should try to emulate.

Others “sanitize” the New Testament. They believe Jesus was real, just not the miracle worker his followers claimed he was. The disciples exaggerated his deeds in order to get more people to follow them.

That one is particularly hard to believe because telling wild “Pecos Bill” type tales hardly seems like the way to convince others to believe. It seems more likely a way to create scoffers.

Still others completely distort who Jesus is: he’s just a man—God is not triune; he’s the son of God, as are we, as is Satan—spirit children conceived by God before time.

More subtle twists of the truth say things like, Jesus came to make us good and happy. He wants all His people to be rich and healthy and powerful. This one is particularly dangerous because there’s truth in the premise—just not in the working out of the idea.

God does want us healthy and happy—for eternity. To get there, He intends to fashion us in the image of Jesus. And that may involve suffering. And because we live in a fallen world, one which God has purposefully left us in, we know we will experience suffering and the cracking of this clay pot which we call our body. But thanks be to the Father. He promises to give us new homes, which includes new bodies. The 2.0 versions will be much better than the old models, though God uses the old to bring us to Himself.

All this to say, those who profess Christ are not equal. Some have conjured up a christ of their own imagining, based on the philosophies and traditions of men, some claiming an angel imparted this new and extra revelation to them. But some who profess Christ belong to the true Church, the bride of Christ who will be with Him forever.

The differences are vast, even though the claim of believing in Christ sounds the same. It is not.

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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. You explain that very well! And still the metaphysical aspects of Jesus ministry are awesome!

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  2. So…what’s real Christianity and what is fake Christianity (specific denominations)? Also, did Jesus wear pants?

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    • No, Catherine, definitely not a specific denomination. People can be saved in any number of denominations. The thing that lots of people don’t understand is that Christians all share a core set of beliefs that we all agree upon, though there might be other less important points that don’t define our Christianity but that guide our thoughts, our worship. For instance, my best friend believes in baptizing babies, as does her denomination of choice. I think the examples in Scripture point to believers getting baptized. But neither one of us thinks that being baptized plays a role in our salvation. Rather, the thing—the only thing—that matters is God’s grace and mercy and forgiveness extended freely to us through the work of His Son Jesus at the cross. Without accepting His work that paid for our sins, we’re not saved. That’s the core, the fundamental, that we share, regardless of our other practices. The “real” Christianity is what Jesus and His followers taught, passed on to the Church through the Scriptures. People who add to those (such as the Mormons) or detract from them (like the Jehovah’s Witnesses), are not Christians, though they may claim to be. After all, anybody can claim to be whatever they want. Somebody can claim to be a car because they live in their parents’ garage, but the claim does not actually make them a car. Living in the garage does not make them a car. Thire are actual, factual things that must be in place. So a bike is not a car, a boat is not a car, a motorcycle is not a car, and certainly a person is not a car, no matter what someone may say.

      I’m not sure about the “Jesus wearing pants” comment. In the first century, men wore robes, and there is reference at the crucifixion scene to Jesus’s robe. Does that matter?

      Becky

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  3. Thank you

    Liked by 2 people


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