Thursday, September 6, 2018

"Heresis" (Conclusion)

So far I have managed to read 209 pages of 800 years of condensed church history. There are near 300 pages and near 1,200 years more to go. To be honest, I am fatigued, worn out, caputtered! This is the second trip through this book and it is more difficult this time than the first time. So, I'm writing the conclusion, do you blame me?

As I studied this, I realized, each and every chapter deserved a 500-page book itself to discover all the details that are connected with its history. Church history is complicated, interwoven with cultures, kingdoms, politics, economics, wars, kings, peasants, affluent, and poor. It is an intriguing study, but a subject too big and exhaustive for a blog series. It is an amazing history, one that every Christian should know at least something about. Ligonier has a video teaching series by Robert Godfrey that is an excellent overview I would recommend for everyone, especially those who don't have to time to read Harold O. J. Brown or some other 500-page book on church history.  https://www.ligonier.org/

To maintain Orthodoxy in our faith is not an easy task, history has proven it never has been. However, history has also proven its maintenance is worth every effort taken, we cannot overestimate its value. There have been major heresies that threatened the very existence of the church. There have been lesser errors introduced that weakened the church's effectiveness. Those heresies and errors have been defeated throughout history by Orthodox teaching only to see those same heresies and errors arise again later. They would arise under new names with some variations, but their essences were the same.

Even today many of the old heretical teachings of the past abide with us still, just under a new name and new management. These old teachings today simply blend into Christiandom and thrive with relatively little resistance. The word heresy carries with it very little meaning today, so in some aspects, error is even more dangerous to Orthodoxy today than in the previous history.

In the church today one is faced with a smorgasbord of distractions. For the most part, it is simply a mixture of these distractions with enough Orthodox teaching to still be considered Christian. These things exist for a number of reasons. In the past, many times error arose from some radical thinking simply taking a truth to the extreme. Other times saw error arise when Orthodox teaching seemed to be ineffective in producing a pious life, therefore, extreme measures were taken in religion to try and achieve a more holy life.

In our Christian walk today, we must be very cautious. With little theological teaching and expositional preaching, this smorgasbord of doctrines is ready to turn our minds into mush. It would be helpful to study your churches doctrine, that is if they have more than just a few statements. Many churches today do not give you enough statements of faith for you to know what they believe. A few Orthodox statements in a what we believe column does not give you an assurance of an Orthodox faith.

So pay attention to what you are being taught, study it out in the Bible for yourself. Don't just look to see if the scripture they used is in the text, but look at the context, consider to whom it was written. Do a little historical study, look at some of the creeds and confessions of the early church and see if you can find their teaching explained. The first six hundred years of church history will give you a good foundation of Orthodox understanding. If you are hearing teaching in your church that has not been addressed by the church in the previous history, that could be a red flag for you to consider.

There have been two thousand years of church history before us. All Christian doctrine has been debated and re-debated. Most of the errors you will encounter have already been addressed sometime in history. There has been no new revelation given since the Prophets and the Apostles, so you should not find any new teaching arising from the text. The confessions of the church coming out of the reformation to some extent address all the major doctrines of the Christian faith. If you are being taught something you cannot find in any of the confessions, that should be another red flag.

This will take a little effort, but it's really not that hard these days with all the access we have to information. It will give you assurance from your own study, it will cause you to be more confident in expressing your faith. And most of all it will safeguard you from falling into hurtful error.

 
In doing this you will find plenty of folks who will confront you and feel their calling is to correct you. We in the Christian community and I include myself, have a tendency to not be teachable. With great tenacity, we are determined to hold on to our pet doctrines and presuppositions of our faith. Understand, many well-meaning Christians will never be persuaded beyond what they have always been taught or come to believe. We must faithfully follow the plain teachings of the Scripture concerning the Gospel and lovingly demonstrate our understanding from those Scriptures.

2Pe 1:3  According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: 

Jas 1:21  Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. 

2Ti 3:15  And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
2Ti 3:16  All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
2Ti 3:17  That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.  


May the Grace of God be with each of you,

David
       

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