Per Fidem Intrepidus means "Fearless Through Faith". My courage isn't my own, it comes from the Holy Spirit, it's my faith in God and my personal savior Christ Jesus that calms my fears and allows me to move forward in this fallen world. Personally I'm afraid of a lot of stuff, but having the faith that Jesus adopted me as his little, sin filled, brother keeps me going.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Dangerous Teachings - Part 1

6  I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; 7 which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to at we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! 9 As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed! (Galatians 1:6-9)
Paul was pretty upset about false teachers, as well he should be. As hard as it is to believe, there were false teachers spreading false doctrines about Christ shortly after his resurrection. Satan is out to demoralize and confuse God's children, driving a wedge between us and our heavenly Father and many of his tricks are based around lies and half truths. In our first encounter with Satan, Satan employed the tactic of false teaching to drive a wedge between us and God. He told Eve that if they ate from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil they wouldn't die. There was a kernel of truth to that, they didn't physically die then and there, but they died spiritually, and eventually died physically. 

There's three dangerous false doctrines that have been with us for a long time, each has a kernel of truth, but when examined they're biblically unsound. The first one of these I'm going to explore is the doctrine of Institutional Security. 

Institutional Security is the doctrine that if you don't belong to XYZ Church you're not going to be saved. One example of this is the Roman Catholic non salus extra Ecclesiam which means "outside the Church there is no salvation". To a bible believing Christian this will be interpreted as saying that being outside of the church means that the church is everyone who believes in Christ and accepted Him as their savior. Which makes sense, you need to believe in order to be saved. However the popes throughout the years chose it to mean the church is the Roman Catholic Church, and being outside of that institution means no salvation. This sounds like an ancient dark ages form of spiritual extortion long past, lost in the darkness of time, but it's still in effect, speaking of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Pius XII said in 1958:
"By divine mandate the interpreter and guardian of the Scriptures, and the depository of Sacred Tradition living within her, the Church alone is the entrance to salvation: She alone, by herself, and under the protection and guidance of the Holy Spirit, is the source of truth."
In other words even after you've accepted Jesus as your savior and believe that he died for your sins, the Holy Spirit of God isn't enough to save you, only the RCC has that power. This belief was held up by the second Vatican council, and don't forget, a vote of cardinals in 1870 made the pope infallible when speaking ex cathedra, so what the pope says, goes.

But do not get the idea that this is just a Roman idea, Jehovah's Witnesses claim that the only people to get saved will be Jehovah's Witnesses. This was published in their newsletter/magazine/document of doctrine: The Watchtower February 15th 1979 (page 30). And for the Mormons, there is no salvation without accepting Joseph Smith as a prophet of God, (Doctrines of Salvation, Vol. 1, p. 188)

Other examples of Institutional Security include the dispensing of rituals (such as baptism), blessings (such as the charismatic "second blessing"), indulgences (such as the recent indulgence of getting time off from purgatory for following the pope on Twitter) or some special knowledge that is denied to non-members. I don't want to get into off-the-wall stuff like secret handshakes required for entrance into heaven, but they are out there. Seriously.

This is the exact thing that Jesus faced when dealing with the Pharisees, they had so institutionalized the Jewish religion that the Jews ended up worshiping the sacrifices, rites, and ceremony more that the Lord. Eventually Jesus had to remind the pharisees that while they thought they had found eternal life in the scriptures, the scriptures were really about Him (John 5:39) and they lost their way.

We are to follow Jesus, not ministers, preachers, and priests. Those people and their organizations are here to help us and teach us. It's very true that we will find a minister or pastor whose word will reach us better than the words from other teachers, we're designed to be individuals thinking. reacting, and learning differently from each other. That's why there's so many ministers and pastors - so God can reach us though one of them. When the personalities and institutions that should be teaching us to depend on God and instead become ends unto themselves, that's Institutional Security.

Institutional Security does have a kernel of truth behind it. The vital importance of being a part of Christ's Church is beyond question, but it is wrong to equate this universal Church with a man-made church. As Christians we are all members of Christ's Church, each gifted with special talents, skills, and abilities which God uses to spread his word. This Church is the body of Christ, and Christ knows who's a member and who isn't (John 10:14) and we don't need Monsignor Brimstone taking attendance every Sunday as part of our salvation. A church is an aide God gave us to help us into His Church.

Institutional Security has a great deal of appeal to it. Humans like to share fellowship with like minded humans and one of the signs of Christianity is that a Christian loves to share fellowship with Christians (1 John 3:14) And there's something in the human psyche that loves ceremony and ritual. We feel safe and secure when surrounded by familiar words and song, it's both a blessing and a curse. When you have a new pastor, or if you go to a different church and find that service is held a different way what is your reaction? If your reaction is an immediate "This is wrong!" especially if you say that before finding out what is fully happening then I'm afraid you're worshiping the institution of the ceremony rather than the Lord. (Then again if you find something biblically wrong and can reference it, you're an awesome Berean)

When Pastor Lovejoy came to the First Church of the Bereans he changed the way communion is done. Traditionally the bread was distributed and we would partake, then the wine was distributed and we would partake of that. Now bread and wine are distributed at the same time and families are encouraged to give each other communion. Many of the Bereans of our little church are well into their golden years and I'm proud to say that there was little disagreement over this change, in fact many come to love Pastor Lovejoy's new groove. These are people secure in their salvation in Christ and enjoying what is happening around them, and not the other way around.

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